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How to Write a MAX Function in Excel

Jason Morrell

by Jason Morrell 
March 13, 2023

The MAX function in Excel extracts the largest value from 2 or more cells or cell ranges. In this post, you'll discover 2 ways to create a MAX formula with examples that you can dissect.

1.  Example 1: How to write a basic MAX function in Excel

Consider this simple data:

Excel base data

To extract the largest value from this range, regardless of the order in which they may, or may not, be sorted, using a MAX function:

1.  Type =MAX(

2.  Select cells A1:A5 with the mouse (you can type the cell range but then you may get human error)

3.  Type the closing bracket and press Enter.

A basic MAX function in Excel

This calculates the max, 30.

The result of the MAX function in Excel

2. Anatomy of a MAX function

  • Every formula starts with '='. 
  • MAX tells Excel what to do with the data, i.e. find the maximum number.
  • The cells or cell ranges inside the brackets tell Excel what to check.

Here are some examples:

=MAX(A1:A5, C1:C5)

3. Example 2: How to generate a MAX using AutoSum

The AutoSUM button is the beginner's best friend. You'll find it on the Home ribbon.

1.  Select the range of cells you wish to check for the highest value, or select the blank cell that will contain the result.

2.  Click the AutoSUM button then choose MAX.

Choosing MAX from the AutoSUM button

3.  Excel writes the MAX function for you. Press Enter to lock it in.

4. Example 3: How to find the biggest number in summed data

If you already have data that has been summed, you can analyse this data to find the maximum. In the example below, every 3 months the quarterly column shows the 3-monthly totals. Columns D and H contain SUM functions for each row. 

To find the highest quarterly figure, the MAX function refers to the cell ranges D2:D6 and H2:H6.

MAX function example 3

5. What next?

I hope you found plenty of value in this post. I'd love to hear your biggest takeaway in the comments below together with any questions you may have.

Have a fantastic day.

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About Jason Morrell

About the author

Jason Morrell

Jason Morrell is a professional trainer, consultant and course creator who lives on the glorious Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.

He helps people of all levels unleash and leverage the power contained within Microsoft Office by delivering training, troubleshooting services and taking on client projects. He loves to simplify tricky concepts and provide helpful, proven, actionable advice that can be implemented for quick results.

Purely for amusement he sometimes talks about himself in the third person.


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