# Excel COLUMN Function

The Excel COLUMN function returns the column number for a reference. For example, COLUMN(C5) returns 3, since C is the third column in the spreadsheet. When no reference is provided, COLUMN returns the column number of the cell which contains the formula.

*reference*- [optional] A reference to a cell or range of cells.

The COLUMN function returns the column number of a reference. For example, COLUMN(C5) returns 3, since C is the third column in the spreadsheet. COLUMN takes just one argument, called *reference*, which can be empty, a cell reference, or a range. When no reference is provided, COLUMN returns the column number of the cell which contains the formula.

### Examples

With a single cell reference, COLUMN returns the associated column number:

When a reference is not provided, COLUMN returns the column number of the cell the formula resides in. For example, if the following formula is entered in cell D6, the result is 4:

=COLUMN() // returns 4 in D6

When COLUMN is given a range, it returns the column numbers for that range:

=COLUMN(E4:G6) // returns {5,6,7}

In Excel 365, which supports dynamic array formulas, the result is an array {5,6,7} that spills horizontally into three cells, starting with the cell the formula resides in. In earlier Excel versions, the first item of the array (5) will display in one cell only.

To get Excel 365 to return a single value, you can use the implicit intersection operator (@):

=@COLUMN(E4:G6) // returns 5

This @ symbol disables array behavior and tells Excel you want a single value.

### Notes

*Reference*can be a single cell address or a range of cells.*Reference*is optional and will default to the cell in which the COLUMN function exists.*Reference*cannot include multiple references or addresses.- To get
*row*numbers, see the ROW function. - To
*count*columns, see the COLUMNS function. - To
*lookup*a column number, see the MATCH function.

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