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Google Sheets Formulas

COLUMN Function in Google Sheets: Explained

In this article, you will learn how to use the COLUMN function in Google Sheets. The COLUMN function simply returns the column number of a particular cell.

How to use the COLUMN formula in Google Sheets

  1. Type “=COLUMN” or go to “Insert”“Function” (or directly navigate to the “Functions” icon)  “Lookup”“COLUMN”.
  2. Input a specific cell by cell reference or manual input, or leave the argument blank.
  3. Press the “Enter” key.
How to insert the COLUMN formula from the menu bar in Google Sheets

The general syntax is as follows:


Cell_reference[Optional]: You can refer to a cell. The formula returns its column number.

Note: If you leave the argument blank, the function returns the column number of the cell in which it is located. For example, if you insert the COLUMN function in cell B4 and keep the parameter unfilled, the formula returns “2” as the formula is in the second column. Also, even if you don’t fill in the argument, you still need to input “()”, parenthesizes.

Look at the following examples.

How to use the column function in Google Sheets

The upper table shows two examples in which you refer to a cell in the COLUMN function. In the first example, as the function refers to cell D5, the formula returns 4, which is the column number of the cell referred to (D is equivalent to 4).

The lower table presents the sample table using the column function for its number of items (Row 6). As you can see, you can get a series of consecutive numbers starting from 1 by entering a formula like “COLUMN() - X”. X should be the number that makes the formula COLUMN()-X equal to 1. In this example, as the first item, Sam, is in cell C7, you should enter “=COLUMN()-2” in cell C6 and copy and paste it to other cells in the same row.

What does a column mean in Google Sheets?

A column is a vertical set of cells. A row is a horizontal series of cells.

How do I refer to a column in Google Sheets?

You can refer to a column range by simply selecting the range when you are inputting an argument for a formula. If you want to select the entire column, you can input its column index twice with a colon between the indexes, such as “=SUM(B:B)”, which aggregates all numbers in Column B.

Other formulas and tips related to rows and columns

If you don’t get the right answer to your question in this article or if you have other questions related to rows and columns, you may find the answers in the following articles.

Navigate to the articles below to learn how to fix rows and/or columns or adjust the heights of rows or the widths of columns to have a better view of a table or a list more efficiently.

How to Freeze Rows and Columns in Google Sheets

How to Resize Column Width in Google Sheets

How to Resize Row Height in Google Sheets

Visit the pages below if you need to learn how to insert multiple rows or columns.

How to Insert Multiple Rows in Google Sheets

How to Insert Multiple Columns in Google Sheets

Check the following articles if you want to learn about how to group or ungroup rows or columns, or change the order of rows and columns.

How to Group Rows and Columns in Google Sheets

How to Switch Two Columns and Rows in Google Sheets

Go to the following web pages if you need to learn how to switch rows and columns. You can do it by using a special paste or the TRANSPOSE function.

Switch Rows and Columns in Google Sheets: Explained

How to Use TRANSPOSE Function in Google Sheets

See these articles to learn how to show the row or column numbers of cells by formula.

ROW Function in Google Sheets: Explained

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