Summary

To get the larger, or greater, of two values, you can use the MAX function. In the example shown, the formula in D5 is:

=MAX(B5,C5)

Generic formula

=MAX(value1,value2)

Explanation 

The MAX function is fully automatic – it returns the largest value in the numbers provided. In this case, we give MAX function two values:

=MAX(B5,C5)

and MAX returns the larger value.

Elegant alternative to IF

The MAX function can be a compact and elegant replacement for the IF function. For example, the formula above can be written with IF like so:

=IF(B5>=C5,B5,C5)

However, the MAX version is 6 characters shorter (11 vs. 17), and contains no redundant references, so it is less prone to errors.

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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.