**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.**

## 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:

Cell A6 uses a **SUM** function to add up the values in cells A1 to A5.

Cell C6 uses a **COUNT** function to find how many cells in the range C1 to C5 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.

Consider the following data:

Here’s the results for each formula:

###### =COUNT(B2:B11)

Answer = 5.

###### =COUNTA(B2:B11)

Answer = 7.

###### =COUNTBLANK(B2: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(B2:B11) - COUNT(B2:B11)

## 3. The COUNTIF function

To demonstrate the COUNTIF function, consider the following data:

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)

## 5. What next?

**Please feel free to post any questions you have into the comments below. And before you leave this page, I want to give you one quick little action item! **

**ACTION ITEM: Comment below with ONE thing you picked up from this post and share how it has helped, or will help, you. It's good to share your successes because it encourages others and provides an instant boost.**

Enjoy the rest of your day!

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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It appears double quotation marks are not needed if the criterion is a number in the COUNTIF function.

Hi Nick. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Yes, it’s true that you don’t need the enclosing quote marks if you are looking to match on an exact number. This is because ‘=’ is implied. For any other comparison (>, >=, ) the expression must be enclosed in double quote marks.

Jason, you are the best!

✌️ Thanks buddy.

wow so simple to understand thank you so much

You’re welcome Ifechukwu.

Very simple to understand. Thanks for helping with my studies!

No worries.

Thanks for the help Jason.

No worries Chukwuefe. I’m glad you found it useful.

Nice and easy to understand. Thanks for the explanation!

Thank you. You’re welcome.

Thanks, It was helpful

You’re welcome.