Quick, clean, and to the point

Find longest string in column

Excel formula: Find longest string in column
Generic formula 

To find the longest string (name, word, etc.) in a column, you can use an array formula based on INDEX and MATCH, together with LEN and MAX. In the example shown, the formula in F6 is:


Where "names" is the named range C5:C14.

Note: this is an array formula and must be entered with control + shift + enter.


The key to this formula is the MATCH function, which is set up like this:


In this snippet, MATCH is set up to perform an exact match by supplying zero for match type. For lookup value, we have this:


Here, the LEN function returns an array of results (lengths), one for each name in the list:


The MAX function then returns the largest value, 9 in this case. For lookup array, LEN is again used to return an array of lengths. The after LEN and MAX run, we have:


which returns the position of the max value, 8.

This goes into INDEX like this:


INDEX duly returns the value in the 8th position of names, which is "Stephanie".

Dave Bruns

Excel Formula Training

Formulas are the key to getting things done in Excel. In this accelerated training, you'll learn how to use formulas to manipulate text, work with dates and times, lookup values with VLOOKUP and INDEX & MATCH, count and sum with criteria, dynamically rank values, and create dynamic ranges. You'll also learn how to troubleshoot, trace errors, and fix problems. Instant access. See details here.

Download 100+ Important Excel Functions

Get over 100 Excel Functions you should know in one handy PDF.