Quick, clean, and to the point

Get relative column numbers in range

Excel formula: Get relative column numbers in range
Generic formula 

To get a full set of relative column numbers in a range, you can use an array formula based on the COLUMN function.

In the example shown, the array formula in B4:H4 is:


On the worksheet, this must be entered as multi-cell array formula using Control + Shift + Enter

This is a robust formula that will continue to generate relative numbers even when columns are inserted in front of the range.


The first COLUMN function generates an array of 7 numbers like this:


The second COLUMN function generates an array with just one item like this:


which is then subtracted from the first array to yield:


Finally, 1 is added to get:


With a named range

You can adapt this formula to use with a named range. For example, in the above example, if you created a named range "data" for B4:H4, you can use this formula to generate column numbers:


In other array formulas

You'll encounter this formula in other array formulas that need to process data column-by-column.

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 200+ Excel Shortcuts

Get over 200 Excel shortcuts for Windows and Mac in one handy PDF.

Excel foundational video course
Excel Pivot Table video training course
Excel formulas and functions video training course
Excel Charts video training course
Video training for Excel Tables
Dynamic Array Formulas