COUNT vs SUM vs COUNTA vs COUNTBLANK vs COUNTIF
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COUNT vs SUM vs COUNTA vs COUNTBLANK vs COUNTIF

COUNT vs SUM vs COUNTA vs COUNTBLANK vs COUNTIF

Many people get confused about how and when to use some of the basic Excel functions. For example, when do you use SUM and when do you use COUNT?

In a moment I’ll tackle that specific question.

Then I'll bring 3 other COUNT functions into the mix - COUNTA, COUNTBLANK and COUNTIF and show you where you would use each one.

Cheat Sheet - How to count anything and everything in Excel (COUNT, COUNTA, COUNTBLANK, COUNTIF, COUNTIFS)

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1. What is the difference between SUM and COUNT?

Very simply, SUM calculates a total for a number of cells or values, so it’s answering the question: HOW MUCH? Or, WHAT IS THE TOTAL?

COUNT tells you HOW MANY cells meet a certain condition.

Consider the following data:

SUM vs COUNT

Figure 01: SUM vs COUNT

Cell A6 uses a SUM function to add up the values in cells A1 to A6.

Cell C6 uses a COUNT function to find how many cells in the range C1 to C6 contain numbers. The COUNT function ignores blank cells or cells that contain text or symbols.

2. Introducing COUNTA, COUNTBLANK and COUNTIF

There are number of other functions available in Excel. Heres a quick summary of what they do, followed by an example of each.

  • COUNT counts how many cells in a range contain numeric data (numbers).
  • COUNTA counts how many populated cells in a range (i.e. not blank).
  • COUNTBLANK counts how many blank cells in a range.
  • COUNTIF counts how many cells in a range meet a certain condition.

Consider the following data:

Sales made by the sales team

Figure 02: Sales made by the sales team

Here’s the results for each formula:

=COUNT(B1:B11)

Answer = 5.

=COUNTA(B1:B11)

Answer = 7.

=COUNTBLANK(B1:B11)

Answer = 3.

There is no single function that tells you the number of text cells but you can work it out with this formula:

=COUNTA(B1:B11) - COUNT(B1:B11)

3. The COUNTIF function

To demonstrate the COUNTIF function, consider the following data:

A table showing stats for some trades people

Figure 03: A table showing stats for some trades people

The COUNTIF function needs 2 bits of information - the range of cells you are looking at and what it is that you’re checking for. The criteria is always encapsulated in double quotation marks (“) and is not case sensitive.

To find how many tradespeople drive a Toyota:

=COUNTIF(C2:C23,"Toyota")

To find how many plumbers there are:

=COUNTIF(D2:D23,"Plumber")

To find how many tradespeople charge more than $70 per hour:

=COUNTIF(E2:E23,">70")

To find how many of the tradesmen’s names start in the last half of the alphabet:

=COUNTIF(B2:B23,">M")

4. Watch the video (over the shoulder demo)

Click to watch video

5. What next?

I hope you found this post useful. 

If this post helped, or you have a question, drop a quick comment below. I always love to hear from my readers. Here's to your learning and success. Enjoy the rest of your day.

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Jason Morrell, Office Mastery

About the author

Jason Morrell


Jason loves to simplify the hard stuff, cut the fluff and share what actually works. Things that make a difference. Things that slash hours from your daily work tasks. He runs a software training business in Queensland, Australia, lives on the Gold Coast with his wife and 4 kids and often talks about himself in the third person!

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  • Jason says:

    Nice and easy to understand. Thanks for the explanation!

  • Mungukende Joshua says:

    Thanks, It was helpful

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