Excel For Max


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The tutorial explains the MAX function with many formula examples that show how to find highest value in Excel and highlight largest number in your worksheet.

MAX is one of the most straightforward and easy-to-use Excel functions. However, it does have a couple of tricks knowing which will give you a big advantage. Say, how do you use the MAX function with conditions? Or how would you extract the absolute largest value? This tutorial provides more than one solution for these and other related tasks.

  • How to use MAX function in Excel – formula examples

Excel MAX function

The MAX function in Excel returns the highest value in a set of data that you specify.

The syntax is as follows:


Where number can be represented by a numeric value, array, named range, a reference to a cell or range containing numbers.

Number1 is required, number2 and subsequent arguments are optional.

The MAX function is available in all versions of Excel for Office 365, Excel 2019, Excel 2016, Excel 2013, Excel 2010, Excel 2007, and lower.

How to make a MAX formula in Excel

To create a MAX formula in its simplest from, you can type numbers directly in the list of arguments, like this:

=MAX(1, 2, 3)

In practice, it's quite a rare case when numbers are 'hardcoded'. For the most part, you will deal with ranges and cells.

The fastest way to build a Max formula that finds the highest value in a range is this:

  1. In a cell, type =MAX(
  2. Select a range of numbers using the mouse.
  3. Type the closing parenthesis.
  4. Press the Enter key to complete your formula.

For example, to work out the largest value in the range A1:A6, the formula would go as follows:


If your numbers are in a contiguous row or column (like in this example), you can get Excel to make a Max formula for you automatically. Here's how:

  1. Select the cells with your numbers.
  2. On the Home tab, in the Formats group, click AutoSum and pick Max from the drop-down list. (Or click AutoSum > Max on the Formulas tab in the Function Library group.)

This will insert a ready-to-use formula in a cell below the selected range, so please make sure there is at least one blank cell underneath the list of numbers that you've selected:

5 things to know about MAX function

To successfully use Max formulas your worksheets, please remember these simple facts:

  1. In the current versions of Excel, a MAX formula can accept up to 255 arguments.
  2. If the arguments do not contain a single number, the MAX function returns zero.
  3. If the arguments contain one or more error values, an error is returned.
  4. Empty cells are ignored.
  5. Logical values and text representations of numbers supplied directly in the list of arguments are processed (TRUE evaluates as 1, FALSE evaluates as 0). In references, logical and text values are ignored.

How to use MAX function in Excel – formula examples

Below you will find a few typical uses of the Excel MAX function. In many cases, there are a few different solutions for the same task, so I encourage you to test all the formulas to choose the one best suited for your data type.

How to find max value in a group

To extract the largest number in a group of numbers, supply that group to the MAX function as a range reference. A range can contain as many rows and columns as you desire. For example, to get the highest value in the range C2:E7, use this simple formula:


Find highest value in non-adjacent cells or ranges

Excel Max If Multiple Criteria

To make a MAX formula for non-contiguous cells and ranges, you need to include a reference to each individual cell and/or range. The following steps will help you to do that quickly and flawlessly:

  1. Start typing a Max formula in a cell.
  2. After you've typed the opening parenthesis, hold down the Ctrl key and select the cells and ranges in the sheet.
  3. After selecting the last item, release Ctrl and type the closing parenthesis.
  4. Press Enter.

Excel will use an appropriate syntax automatically, and you will get a formula similar to this:

=MAX(C5:E5, C9:E9)

As shown in the screenshot below, the formula returns the maximum sub-total value from rows 5 and 9:

How to get max (latest) date in Excel

In the internal Excel system, dates are nothing else but serial numbers, so the MAX function handles them without a hitch.

For instance, to find the latest delivery date in C2:C7, make a usual Max formula that you'd use for numbers:


MAX function in Excel with conditions

When you wish to get the maximum value based on conditions, there are several formulas for you to choose from. To make sure that all the formulas return the identical result, we will test them on the same set of data.

The task: With the items listed in B2:B15 and sales figures in C2:C15, we aim to find the highest sale for a specific item input in F1 (please see the screenshot at the end of this section).

Excel MAX IF formula

If you a looking for a formula that works in all versions of Excel 2000 through Excel 2019, use the IF function to test the condition, and then pass the resulting array to the MAX function:

=MAX(IF(B2:B15=F1, C2:C15))

For the formula to work, it must press Ctrl + Shift + Enter simultaneously to enter it as an array formula. If all done correctly, Excel will enclose your formula in {curly braces}, which is a visual indication of an array formula.

It is also possible to evaluate several conditions in a single formula, and the following tutorial shows how: MAX IF with multiple conditions.

Non-array MAX IF formula

If you don't like using array formulas in your worksheets, then combine MAX with the SUMPRODUCT function that processes arrays natively:


For more information, please see MAX IF without array.

MAXIFS function

In Excel 2019 and Excel for Office 365, there is a special function named MAXIFS, which is designed to find the highest value with up to 126 criteria.

In our case, there is just one condition, so the formula is as simple as:

=MAXIFS(C2:C15, B2:B15, F1)

For the detailed explanation of the syntax, please see Excel MAXIFS with formula examples.

The below screenshot shows all 3 formulas in action:

Get max value ignoring zeros

This is, in fact, a variation of conditional MAX discussed in the previous example. To exclude zeros, use the 'not equal to' logical operator and put the expression '<>0' in either the criteria of MAXIFS or the logical test of MAX IF.

As you understand, testing this condition only makes sense in case of negative numbers. With positive numbers, this check is superfluous because any positive number is greater than zero.

To give it a try, let's find the lowest discount in the range C2:C7. As all the discounts are represented by negative numbers, the smallest discount is actually the largest value.


Be sure to press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to correctly complete this array formula:

Excel max if multiple criteria

=MAX(IF(C2:C7<>0, C2:C7))


It's a regular formula, and a usual Enter keystroke will suffice.


Find highest value ignoring errors

When you work with a large amount of data driven by various formulas, chances are that some of your formulas will result in errors, which will cause a MAX formula to return an error too.

As a workaround, you can use MAX IF together with ISERROR. Given that you are searching in the range A1:B5, the formula takes this shape:

=MAX(IF(ISERROR(A1:B5)), ', A1:B5))

To simplify the formula, use the IFERROR function instead of the IF ISERROR combination. This will also make the logic a bit more obvious – if there's an error in A1:B5, replace it with an empty string ('), and then get the maximum value in the range:


A fly in the ointment is that you need to remember to press Ctrl + Shift + Enter because this only works as an array formula.

In Excel 2019 and Excel for Office 356, the MAXIFS function can be a solution, provided that your data set contains at least one positive number or zero value:


Since the formula searches for the highest value with the condition 'greater than or equal to 0', it won't work for a data set consisting of solely negative numbers.

All these limitations are not good, and we are evidently in need of a better solution. The AGGREGATE function, which can perform a number of operations and ignore error values, fits perfectly:

=AGGREGATE(4, 6, A1:B5)

The number 4 in the 1st argument indicates the MAX function, the number 6 in the 2nd argument is the 'ignore errors' option, and A1:B5 is your target range.

Under perfect circumstances, all three formulas will return the same result:

How to find absolute max value in Excel

When working with a range of positive and negative numbers, sometimes you may wish to find the largest absolute value regardless of the sign.

The first idea that comes to mind is to get the absolutes values of all numbers in the range by using the ABS function and feed those to MAX:


This is an array formula, so don't forget to confirm it with the Ctrl + Shift + Enter shortcut. Another caveat is that it only works with numbers and results in an error in case of non-numeric data.

Not happy with this formula? Then let us build something more viable :)

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What if we find the minimum value, reverse or ignore its sign, and then evaluate along with all other numbers? Yep, that will work perfectly as a normal formula. As an extra bonus, it handles text entries and errors just fine:

With the source numbers in A1:B5, the formulas go as follows.

Excel For Mac Shortcuts

Array formula (completed with Ctrl + Shift + Enter):


Regular formula (completed with Enter):

=MAX(MAX(A1:B5), -MIN(A1:B5))


=MAX(MAX(A1:B5), ABS(MIN(A1:B5)))

The below screenshot shows the results:

Return the maximum absolute value preserving the sign

Excel For Macbook

In some situations, you may have a need to find the largest absolute value but return the number with its original sign, not the absolute value.

Assuming the numbers are in cells A1:B5, here's the formula to use:

=IF(ABS(MAX(A1:B5))>ABS(MIN(A1:B5)), MAX(A1:B5), MIN(A1:B5))

Complex at first sight, the logic is quite easy to follow. First, you find the largest and smallest numbers in the range and compare their absolute values. If the absolute max value is greater than the absolute min value, the maximum number is returned, otherwise – the minimum number. Because the formula returns the original and not absolute value, it keeps the sign information:

How to highlight max value in Excel

In situation when you want to identify the largest number in the original data set, the fastest way is to highlight it with Excel conditional formatting. The below examples will walk you through two different scenarios.

Excel Max Function With Condition

Highlight highest number in a range

Microsoft Excel has a predefined rule to format top ranked values, which suits our needs perfectly. Here are the steps to apply it:

  1. Select your range of numbers (C2:C7 in our case).
  2. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, click Conditional formatting > New Rule.
  3. In the New Formatting Rule dialog box, choose Format only top or bottom ranked values.
  4. In the lower pane, pick Top from the drop-down list and type 1 in the box next to it (meaning you want to highlight just one cell containing the largest value).
  5. Click the Format button and select the desired format.
  6. Click OK twice to close both windows.

Done! The highest value in the selected range is automatically highlighted. If there is more than one max value (duplicates), Excel will highlight them all:

Highlight max value in each row

Since there is no built-in rule to make the highest value stand out from each row, you will have to configure your own one based on a MAX formula. Here's how:

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  1. Select all the rows in which you want to highlight max values (C2:C7 in this example).
  2. On the Home tab, in the Styles group, click New Rule > Use a formula to determine which cells to format.
  3. In the Format values where this formula is true box, enter this formula:


    Where C2 is the leftmost cell and $C2:$E2 is the first row range. For the rule to work, be sure to lock the column coordinates in the range with the $ sign.

  4. Click the Format button and choose the format you want.
  5. Click OK twice.
Tip. In a similar manner, you can highlight the highest value in each column. The steps are exactly the same, except that you write a formula for the first column range and lock the row coordinates: =C2=MAX(C$2:C$7)

For more information, please see How to create a formula-based conditional formatting rule.

Excel MAX function not working

MAX is one of the most straightforward Excel functions to use. If against all expectations it does not work right, it's most likely to be one of the following issues.

MAX formula returns zero

If a normal MAX formula returns 0 even though there are higher numbers in the specified range, chances are those numbers are formatted as text. It's especially the case when you run the MAX function on data driven by other formulas. You can check this by using the ISNUMBER function, for example:


If the above formula returns FALSE, the value in A1 is not numeric. Meaning, you should troubleshoot the original data, not a MAX formula.

MAX formula returns #N/A, #VALUE or other error

Please check the referenced cells carefully. If any of the referenced cells contains an error, a MAX formula will result in the same error. To bypass this, see how to get the max value ignoring all errors.

That's how to find max value in Excel. I thank you for reading and hope to see you on our blog soon!

Available downloads:

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  1. im trying to find the best way to write a function that will take the max of a range of cells and display the row header associated with that cell... for example take the Max of cells A1:a17 and display the row header of whichever value is produced from the max function. any input?

  2. Is it possible to do an index match lookup between 2 tables and also find the highest value? The index match + max formulas I am finding all seem to be for within a single table.

    For example, if you have a list of cities and hotel prices at different times of the year in one table.
    Then in another table, you have a list of cities, with columns for different values and you want to pull in the highest hotel price from the other table. Is that possible with any kind of lookup?

  3. Hello,
    I have tried my best on my own forever. I am trying to get the largest sum of 5 numbers, however, based on a second column, the corresponding total cannot exceed a number. Example, for the below, I would like to have the left column total the largest of the 5 added up, but cannot exceed $135 based on the column to it's right. I have gotten close, but it will give me a number but don't actually know which 5 it has chosen! Ha. So best case scenario, it will highlight or say A, D, H or whatever are the five that total the most without going over $135 summed on the right column. Thanks for any help and I hope that makes sense.

    A 24.91 $37
    B 19.47 $23
    C 18.26 $38
    So On 17.27 $34
    13.48 $22
    12.37 $18
    11.45 $20
    10.68 $18
    9.49 $17
    9.34 $18
    8.99 $16
    6.25 $10
    6.15 $21
    5.38 $10
    4.28 $10

  4. I have a customer list with three columns representing stage1, stage2 and stage3. some customers have balance only in one stage while others have balance in two stages. I want to find out the stage with maximum balance for each customer. how to find the same.
    Customer STAGE1 STAGE2 STAGE3 Result I want
    ABC 100 400 STAGE3
    DEF 3000 2000 STAGE1
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    KPL 250 STAGE1
    GHI -250 STAGE2

    How can I find the result with a formula for larger amount of data

  5. I have 2 columns of values, i have conditionally formatted each to show top 20%. I want ones that are in the top 20% of each category to be highlighted in another colour. e.g top 20% in column A Green, top 20% in column B Green. In top 20% in A and B Blue.

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  6. After I find the MAX value, do I use a CONCATENATE formula to show which is the highest value? Any suggestions are welcome. Thank you.

  7. i have in
    column A: 34,34,34,33,33,33,35,35.
    column B: 3,2,1,5,4,3,2,2,1

    what function i can use to gate max value of B compare to A: 34,33,35 for each
    like in column C: 3,nil,nil,5,nil,nil,2,nil.

  8. I have been trying the formula to get headers to find maximum value in rows which goes as =INDEX($P1:$R1,0,MATCH(MAX($P2:$R2),$P2:$R2,0))
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  9. Hello im trying to find the best formula for this data. I feel it should be FILTER but not sure which one to use.
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    A B C D
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    Company XYZ AC1000000454 $67.91 AR400
    Company XYZ AC1000000454 $3,428.52 A9100
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    Company XYZ AC1000000454 ($33.00) AHF00
    Company XYZ AC1000000454 ($4,256.00) A1044

  10. Hi,

    Could you please help me out on how to calculate max time from an array of 3 time stamps of 3 systems placed horizontal in range? How can I get the system names too after I try the formula or it can directly show system names that has highest time? How can I use maxifs with criteria range?

    System 1, 00:30:23
    System 2, 00:57:20
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  11. Hi

    Am working with data where I have to get the date of Highest Quantity with matching Product No.
    Maxif formula is not working with.

    Kindly suggest the way out.

    Product Qty Date
    GHI 102 30-Aug
    DEF 77 30-Aug
    ABC 21 30-Aug
    ABC 10 30-Aug
    GHI 119 20-May
    GHI 106 20-May
    GHI 94 20-May
    DEF 81 20-May
    DEF 69 20-May
    DEF 56 20-May
    ABC 44 20-May
    ABC 36 20-May
    ABC 10 20-May
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    DEF 90 10-May
    DEF 65 10-May
    ABC 40 10-May
    ABC 20 10-May
    GHI 110 01-May
    DEF 85 01-May
    DEF 61 01-May
    ABC 35 01-May
    GHI 123 30-Apr
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    ABC 48 10-Apr
    ABC 30 10-Apr

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  12. Hello,

    Does anyone know how to apply this function with data that is not in a consecutive range?

    Instead of a range like B5:G5, my data is B5,D5,F5,

    Can anyone help?


  13. Hi,
    I have a data sheet that I need to extract information from, in one column I have the NAMES of persons, in another I have either 'yes' or 'no' answers for each person.
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  14. Hi, I am involved in stock trading and i have my trading records in Excel; ie bunch of profits and losses.

    My question is, how do i find the lowest and highest profit and loss that i make in my records?

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  15. Hello, I'm trying to get the maximum error to show up but some times the maximum error is a negative (so -5 is a greater error than +3 etc) Any ideas?

    Also the 2 cells I'm comparing arent next to each other (just to add to the fun).

  16. hello
    Can I get help to write a formula that will highlight the lowest price for an article that repeats in several rows. If that article only shows once then that price would be highlighted too. for example only the first line would be highlighted.

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  17. I'm struggling with this a bit.
    My challenge is that I've got a list of results in a column, and want to identify the largest value in that column and then add a bonus prize in the next column for the largest row value.

    I would describe it BADLY as:
    in the column next to the data: +IF('the data in this cell is greater than the cells in rh column, give me A point' otherwise 0)
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  18. I am trying to find a formula that returns for example to find which State had the highest sales for a specific month. Column A is the State and Column B is the sales for the specific month. Does anyone know a formula for this? Thanks.

  19. Hi, is it possible to create a formula to find the max value if some of the cells contain ranges please?
    i.e. working out that the max value is 505 from the following cells:
    Cell 1. 490
    Cell 2. 500,
    Cell 3. 490-505

  20. Dear Sir

    can you help me to do a formula to find highest value of 1st numbers letters

  21. This is excellent, thanks for saving me a ton of time!

  22. which one of the following functions is designed to display the maximum value in a range of cells with question answer

  23. THANK YOU!!! Do you know how complicated I have been making this for years?! And it was as simple as =Max!!!
    You have made my day!

  24. How to find max, 2nd, 3rd & 4th latest dates by name in another sheet?
    Results e;
    Names in column A
    Dates in column B
    Distance in column C
    & so on


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