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A to Z of Excel Functions: The COLUMNS Function

21 August 2017

Welcome back to our regular A to Z of Excel Functions blog.  Today we look at the COLUMNS function.


The COLUMNS function

This is one of the pillars of Excel’s features.  Yes, the jokes get no better.  This function returns the number of columns in an array or reference.

The COLUMNS function employs the following syntax to operate:


The COLUMNS function has the following arguments:

  • array: this is required and represents an array or array formula, or a reference to a range of cells for which you want the number of columns
  • this is a useful function to employ when you need to keep track of the relative number of columns in an array.  For example, VLOOKUP(lookup_value, table_array, COLUMNS(given_range), [range_lookup]) allows you to add or remove columns in the range without the relevant column to be returned being affected.

Please see my example below: 

We’ll continue our A to Z of Excel Functions soon. Keep checking back – there’s a new blog post every other business day.

A full page of the function articles can be found here.