Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 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: Returning the Smallest Non-Zero Value.

Returning the Smallest Non-Zero Value

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 17, 2020)

3

Mark is hoping to find the smallest non-zero value in a set of values. For example, if he has the values 0,0,3,0,6,8, he would want the value 3 (the smallest non-zero value) returned by a formula. Mark knows he can use the SMALL function with the second argument calculated by using a COUNTIF to count the number of zeroes in the range. However, he wants to use this inside of an array formula, and Excel can't handle COUNTIFs inside of array formulas.

Since Mark is only interested in array formulas (entered by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter), then there are a couple that could be used. The following array formula is worth looking at first:

=MIN(IF(A1:A5=0,MAX(A1:A5),A1:A5))

Assuming the values to be examined are in A1:A5, this formula puts together an array of non-zero values from that range. If the value in one of the cells is 0, then the MAX function kicks in, returning the largest value from the range. (This essentially kicks the value at that cell—originally 0—out of consideration as the smallest value.) If the value in one of the cells is not 0, then the actual value is returned. The MIN function then returns the lowest value from the array.

You can make the formula even shorter by turning it around in this manner:

=MIN(IF(A1:A5<>0,A1:A5))

Don't forget, again, that this is an array formula requiring the use of Ctrl+Shift+Enter to enter the formula. Note that in this version, the value in each cell of the range is checked to see if it isn't 0. If it isn't, then the value is returned. If it is 0, then nothing is returned. Again, the MIN function is used to return the lowest value from the array.

Just a quick note regarding using these as array formulas: Microsoft changed the way that Excel works, internally, in late 2019/early 2020. This did away with the need to enter array formulas using Ctrl+Shift+Enter. Thus, if you are using the version of Excel provided with Office 365, you can get by with using these formulas without Ctrl+Shift+Enter.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9330) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Returning the Smallest Non-Zero Value.

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. ...

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What is 9 - 3?

2022-06-11 15:00:04

Steve

Thank you for actually VERIFYING that the solution works; I've seen so many people on StackExchange post 'solutions' that they didn't even try, that don't work, wasting everyone's time.


2020-10-19 07:32:12

Alex Blakenburg

If you have office 365, you could use
=MIN(FILTER(A1:A5,(A1:A5)>0)) - if you only want the lowest non-zero positive
=MIN(FILTER(A1:A5,(A1:A5)<>0)) - if you do not want to exclude negatives (and want the true non-zero minimum), of course will give the same result as the above if there are no negatives.


2020-10-17 11:41:49

J. Woolley

You might be interested in the MINIF and MAXIF functions in My Excel Toolbox: https://sites.google.com/view/MyExcelToolbox/
You might also consider the MINIFS and MAXIFS functions in Excel 365/2019.


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