Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Averaging a Non-Contiguous Range.

Averaging a Non-Contiguous Range

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 27, 2018)

1

Tom needs to average a series of non-contiguous cells, excluding any cells that may contain zero values. Specifically, he needs to average cells A1, C1, E1, G1, and J1, but only counting those cells that don't contain zero.

Before getting into what works, let's take a look at what doesn't work. First of all, it doesn't work to simply add the cells and divide by 5; that doesn't take zero values into account. Second, it doesn't work to use COUNTIF in the denominator of your formula, as shown here:

=(A1+C1+E1+G1+J1) / COUNTIF(A1:J1,"<>0")

This doesn't work because it examines and counts cells within the entire range of A1:J1, not just the five cells you want considered in the average. You might also think that you could select your five non-contiguous cells, give them a name, and then use the name in your formula. While Excel allows you to create the name, the following gives an error:

=SUM(MyCells) / COUNTIF(MyCells,"<>0")

It appears that COUNTIF will only work with a single contiguous range, so the non-contiguous nature of the MyCells range throws the function into a tailspin. A similar problem occurs if you try to use a non-contiguous range with the AVERAGEIF function:

=AVERAGEIF(MyCells, "<>0")

Since you can't use any of the functions you might want to use, you are left to rely on a bit longer formula to calculate the average. You can calculate the average of these five cells by applying a bit of "trickery" to your denominator, in this manner:

=(A1+C1+E1+G1+J1) / ((A1<>0)+(C1<>0)+(E1<>0)+(G1<>0)+(J1<>0))

The evaluation done on each cell in the denominator returns either a 1 (for True) or a 0 (for False) depending on whether the cell contains a non-zero value or not. This series of values is added together, providing the necessary count of non-zero cells for the denominator.

Notice that the discussion here has been all about the denominator in the formula, not the numerator. The reason is simple—you can add all five values into the numerator; zero values there don't really matter. The only place they matter is in the denominator, which is what makes calculating this average so tricky.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7845) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Averaging a Non-Contiguous Range.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Highlight Words from a Word List

Do you need to highlight certain words in a document, and aren't quite sure how to go about it? Using the techniques ...

Discover More

Editing Headers and Footers

Headers and footers are a nice final touch in a document. You can easily edit them by using the methods described in this ...

Discover More

Understanding Fill Effects

Want to fill a drawing object with different types of effects? Excel provides several effects that can make your drawing ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Averaging Values for a Given Month and Year

Excel is often used to analyze data collected over time. In doing the analysis, you may want to only look at data ...

Discover More

An Average that Excludes Zero Values

Excel allows you to use functions and formulas to analyze your data. One way you can analyze your data is to use the ...

Discover More

Excluding Values from Averaging

Calculating an average of a group of numbers is easy. What if you want to exclude a couple of the numbers from the group ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 8 - 1?

2018-10-27 16:35:01

Eric J


This will also do the trick.

=SUM(MyCells)/(COUNT(MyCells)-FREQUENCY(MyCells,0))

Frequency will count the (0) zeros in the MyCells array and ignore blank cells and text.
Count will tally the cells in the array with numbers only.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.