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MS Excel: COLUMN Function (WS)

Learn how to use the Excel COLUMN function with syntax and examples.


The Microsoft Excel COLUMN function returns the column number of a cell reference.


The syntax for the Microsoft Excel COLUMN function is:

COLUMN( [reference] )

Parameters or Arguments

reference is optional. It is a reference to a cell or range of cells. If the reference parameter is omitted, then the COLUMN function assumes that the reference is the cell address in which the COLUMN function has been entered in.

Applies To

The COLUMN function can be used in the following versions of Microsoft Excel:

  • Excel 2013, Excel 2011 for Mac, Excel 2010, Excel 2007, Excel 2003, Excel XP, Excel 2000

Type of Excel Function

The COLUMN function can be used in Microsoft Excel as the following type of function:

  • Worksheet function (WS)

Example (as Worksheet Function)

Let's look at some Excel COLUMN function examples and explore how to use the COLUMN function as a worksheet function in Microsoft Excel:

Microsoft Excel

Based on the spreadsheet above, the following Excel COLUMN examples would return:

=COLUMN() would return 3
because the COLUMN function has been entered in cell C1
(as per picture above)
=COLUMN(C1) would return 3
=COLUMN(B4) would return 2
=COLUMN(B4:B6) would return 2