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 Iâ€™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.

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## What is the difference between SUM and COUNT?

Very simply, SUM calculates a total for a number of cells or values, so itâ€™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:

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.

## Other COUNT functions in Excel

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:

Figure 02: Sales made by the sales team

Hereâ€™s the results for each formula:

###### =COUNT(B1:B11)

###### =COUNTA(B1:B11)

###### =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)

To demonstrate the COUNTIF function, consider the following data:

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 youâ€™re checking for. The criteria is always encapsulated in double quotation marks (â€œ) and is not case sensitive.

## Example of the COUNTIF function

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 tradesmenâ€™s names start in the last half of the alphabet:

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

I hope you found this post useful.

What do you think?