COUNT Vs. COUNTA (Difference Between Two Excel Functions)

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- Written by Puneet

In Excel, several COUNT functions are used for different counting purposes. Out of these functions, there are two basic and highly used functions: COUNT and COUNTA

The COUNTA and COUNT both count cells but do it differently. COUNT only counts cells that have numbers in them. If you have a mix of numbers, text, and empty cells, COUNT will only give you the total number of cells with numbers.

On the other hand, COUNTA is more flexible. It counts all cells with any value, whether text, numbers or even symbols. So, if you need to count how many cells have data, no matter what type, COUNTA is the one to use.

Key Differences Between COUNT and COUNTA

In Excel, there are two frequently used functions COUNT and COUNTA. Both functions work in the same way, but there’s few differences that you need to know to use them better.

count-vs-counta
Feature
COUNT
COUNTA
Usage
Useful for counting cells containing numbers only.
Useful for counting all cells that are not empty, including text, numbers, logical values, and errors.
Empty Cells
Ignores empty cells.
Counts cells with any value but ignores truly empty cells.
Text Values
Does not count text values.
Counts text values.
Logical Values
Ignores logical values (TRUE/FALSE).
Counts logical values.
Error Values
Ignores error values (e.g., #DIV/0!, #VALUE!).
Counts cells with error values.
Date and Time
Counts cells with date and time if they are formatted as numbers.
Counts cells with date and time as they are considered non-empty.
Cell References
Works with specific cell references or ranges that contain numbers.
Works with any range or cell references that contain non-empty cells.

Understanding COUNT Function

COUNT function is handy when you need to count numbers in a list. It only counts cells that have numbers in them, ignoring any text or empty cells. Imagine you have a column with some numbers and some text, and you only want to know how many numbers there are.

For example, if you have numbers in cells A1 to A10, you’d type =COUNT(A1:A10), and the function will then count how many of those cells have numbers and return that count in the cell.

Understanding COUNTA Function

COUNTA counts how many cells have a value in them. Unlike the COUNT function, which only counts numbers, COUNTA counts all cells that are not empty. It means counting cells with text, numbers, dates, or symbols.

To use it, you just type =COUNTA(range), where “range” is the group of cells you want to check.

For example, if you have a list of names and some empty cells, COUNTA will tell you how many cells have names. If you have 5 cells in the range A1:A5 with 3 names and 2 blank cells, COUNTA will return 3 in the result. One of the most prominent uses of COUNTA is to count the cells that are not blank.

counta-to-count-non-empty-cells

You can see in the above example that we have referred to the range A1:A10; in the result, it has returned 6. And if you count, there are six cells with the values in the range.

Example to Understand the Difference (COUNT Vs. COUNTA)

In the following example, we have a list of values in column A, where we have different kinds of values, including numbers, text, symbols, and blank values.

cells-with-different-values

Now, when you use the COUNT function, it returns 3 in the result as you have only three values out of 9 that are numbers.

use-count-formula

However, when you use the COUNTA function for the same range, it returns 9 in the result, as we have 9 cells with the value in the range.

use-counta-formula

Which Function is Better Between COUNT and COUNTA

Both functions are useful and easy to use, but in the real-world scenario, COUNTA makes more sense as it can help you count cells with values, which is a more frequent situation than counting cells with numbers. But this doesn’t make the COUNT function less useful; people who do data analysis use the COUNT function a lot.

Last Updated: May 28, 2024

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