To count the number of cells that are not equal to a given value, you can use the COUNTIF function. In the generic form of the formula, range represents a range of cells, and x represents the value you don't want to count. All other values will be counted. In the example shown, G5 contains this formula:


COUNTIF returns 9, since nine cells in D5:D16 are not equal to "red".

Generic formula



In this example, the goal is to count the number of cells in column D that are not equal to a given color. The simplest way to do this is with the COUNTIF function, as explained below.

Not equal to

In Excel, the operator for not equal to is "<>". For example:

=A1<>10 // A1 is not equal to 10
=A1<>"apple" // A1 is not equal to "apple"

COUNTIF function

The COUNTIF function counts the number of cells in a range that meet the supplied criteria:


To use the not equal to operator (<>) in COUNTIF, it must be enclosed in double quotes like this:

=COUNTIF(range,"<>10") // not equal to 10
=COUNTIF(range,"<>apple") // not equal to "apple"

This is a requirement of COUNTIF, which is in a group of eight functions that share this syntax. In the example shown, we want to count cells not equal to "red" in D5:D16, so we use "<>red" for criteria. The formula in G5 is:

=COUNTIF(D5:D16,"<>red") // returns 9

In cell G6, we count all cells not equal to blue with a similar formula:

=COUNTIF(D5:D16,"<>blue") // returns 7

Note: COUNTIF is not case-sensitive. The word "red" can appear in any combination of uppercase or lowercase letters.

Not equal to another cell

To use a value in another cell as part of the criteria, use the ampersand (&) operator to concatenate like this:


For example, if A1 contains 100 the criteria will be "<>100" after concatenation, and COUNTIF will count cells not equal to 100:


COUNTIFS function

The COUNTIFS function is designed to handle multiple criteria, but can be used just like the COUNTIF function in this example:

=COUNTIFS(D5:D16,"<>red") // returns 9
=COUNTIFS(D5:D16,"<>blue") // returns 7

Video: How to use the COUNTIFS function

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Dave Bruns

Hi - I'm Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.