## Summary

The Excel COLUMN function returns the column number for a reference. For example, COLUMN(C5) returns 3, since C is the third column in the spreadsheet. When no reference is provided, COLUMN returns the column number of the cell which contains the formula.

## Purpose

Get the column number of a reference.

## Return value

A number representing the column.

## Arguments

• reference - [optional] A reference to a cell or range of cells.

## Syntax

=COLUMN([reference])

## How to use

The COLUMN function returns the column number of a reference. For example, COLUMN(C5) returns 3, since C is the third column in the spreadsheet. COLUMN takes just one argument, called reference, which can be empty, a cell reference, or a range. When no reference is provided, COLUMN returns the column number of the cell which contains the formula.

### Examples

With a single cell reference, COLUMN returns the associated column number:

``````=COLUMN(A1) // returns 1
=COLUMN(C1) // returns 3
``````

When a reference is not provided, COLUMN returns the column number of the cell the formula resides in. For example, if the following formula is entered in cell D6, the result is 4:

``````=COLUMN() // returns 4 in D6
``````

When COLUMN is given a range, it returns the column numbers for that range:

``````=COLUMN(E4:G6) // returns {5,6,7}
``````

In Excel 365, which supports dynamic array formulas, the result is an array {5,6,7} that spills horizontally into three cells, starting with the cell the formula resides in. In earlier Excel versions, the first item of the array (5) will display in one cell only.

To get Excel 365 to return a single value, you can use the implicit intersection operator (@):

``````=@COLUMN(E4:G6) // returns 5
``````

This @ symbol disables array behavior and tells Excel you want a single value.

### Notes

• Reference can be a single cell address or a range of cells.
• Reference is optional and will default to the cell in which the COLUMN function exists.
• Reference cannot include multiple references or addresses.
• To get row numbers, see the ROW function.
• To count columns, see the COLUMNS function.
• To lookup a column number, see the MATCH function.

Author

### 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.