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Larger of two values

Read time: 20 minutes

While working with Excel, we are able to compare two or more values and determine the largest value by using the MAX function.  This step by step tutorial will assist all levels of Excel users in determining the larger of two values.  

Figure 1. Final result: Larger of two values

Syntax of MAX Function

MAX function returns the largest value in a data set

=MAX(number1, [number2], ...)

  • number1, number2, … – the numbers for which we want to find the largest value; only number1 is required; succeeding numbers are optional
  • The arguments could be numbers, array or reference to cells containing numbers

Setting up our Data

Our data consists of three columns : Value 1 (column B), Value 2 (column C) and Result (column D).  We want to compare the two values and determine the larger value. The results will be recorded in column D.

Figure 2. Sample data  for larger of two values

Larger of two values using MAX

In determining the larger of two values using MAX function, let us follow these steps:

Step 1.  Select cell D3

Step 2.  Enter the formula: =MAX(B3,C3)

Step 3.  Press ENTER

Step 4:  Copy the formula in cell D3 to cells D4:D7 by clicking the “+” icon at the bottom-right corner of cell D3 and dragging it down

As a result, the value in D3 is 2, because 2 is larger than 1.5.  

Figure 3.  Using MAX function to determine larger of two values

Below table shows the result in cells D3:D7, where MAX function returns the larger of the two values in every row.  

Figure 4.  Output: Larger of two values

Larger of two values using IF

There is an alternative solution to determine the larger of two values by using the IF function.   Our formula in cell D3 becomes:


The IF function presents more uses than the MAX function, because we can customize the criteria and the values that will be returned by the formula.  However, in determining the larger of two values, the MAX function is shorter and simpler to use.

Most of the time, the problem you will need to solve will be more complex than a simple application of a formula or function. If you want to save hours of research and frustration, try our live Excelchat service! Our Excel Experts are available 24/7 to answer any Excel question you may have. We guarantee a connection within 30 seconds and a customized solution within 20 minutes.

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