How to Find the Smaller of Two Values in Excel

Want to learn how to get smaller, or lesser, of two values in Excel? This post will give you an overview of how to do so using the MIN function.

Find the smaller of two values in Excel

To get the smaller, or lesser of two values using the MIN function, you can use and follow the procedure below:

  • Select cells on the right of the row you are interested in on the spreadsheet
  • Click on the Formulas tab on the menu bar.
  • On Function Library group, click Insert Function.
  • Press Delete to delete the content of the Search for a function text box.

Example 1

The dialogue box will display as shown below.

Figure 1. How to access MIN formula in Excel

  • Type Min and click OK.

Example 2

It will display a dialogue box

Figure 2. Smaller of two values

  • The number1 is the span of cells to which you want to apply the formula or cell numbers for which you want the maximum. In the example above, it is E4 to F4. Type E4:F4.
  • Click on OK.
  • The result is provided in cell G4

It will show you the result displayed in the screenshot below:

Figure 3. The result displayed by MIN

Interpretation of the Result

What is displayed above shows that in the row extending from E4 to F4 in the spreadsheet above, the MIN function is used to get the smaller or lesser value of the numbers, that is,

=MIN(E4,F4)

‘3’ in G4 is return as the result because it is smaller than ‘4’. It can be easily verified by looking at the smaller number in each cell from the data provided.

On the other hand, simply type the formula above into the cell on the right of the row you are keen on. Hit the enter key when you are done typing, this automatically returns the smallest value in the number provided in the cells.

IF can also be used to get the smaller of two values. Consider the example displayed on the screenshot below in which the formula in G9 is:

=IF(E9<=F9,E9,F9)

Figure 4. Return smaller of two values.

In this case, the formula for G9 indicates that the value in E9 should be returned IF lesser than or equals to the value in F9, since this is not true, the value in F9 is returned.

How the formula works

What the IF formula does essentially is to check the cells that have values that are smaller, using the following formula

=IF(E9<=F9,value1,value2)

the cells you want to calculate for. It will return the value in F9 if the condition is not true.

Nonetheless, the MIN function is faster and saver to use as it contains no repetitive references, so it is less inclined to blunders.

Still need some help with Excel formatting or have other questions about Excel? Connect with a live Excel expert here for some 1 on 1 help. Your first session is always free. 

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