## Explanation

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:

```
=COUNTIF(range,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:

```
=COUNTIF(range,"<>"&A1)
```

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

```
=COUNTIF(range,"<>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
```