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: Counting Consecutive Negative Numbers.

Counting Consecutive Negative Numbers

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 2, 2021)

4

Lori has a series of numbers, in adjacent cells, that can be either positive or negative. She would like a way to determine the largest sequence of negative numbers in the range. Thus, if there were seven negative numbers in a row in this sequence, she would like a formula that would return the value 7.

We've looked high and low and can't find a single formula that will do what is wanted. You can, however, do it with an intermediate column. For instance, if you have your numbers in column A (beginning in A1), then you could put the following formula in cell B1:

=IF(A1<0,1,0)

Then, in cell B2 enter the following:

=IF(A2<0,B1+1,0)

Copy this down to all the other cells in column B for which there is a value in column A. Then, in a different cell (perhaps cell C1) you can put the following formula:

=MAX(B:B)

This value will represent the largest number of consecutive negative values in column A.

If you don't want to create an intermediate column to get the answer, you could create a user-defined function that will return the value.

Function MaxNegSequence(rng As Range)
' search for the largest sequence
' of negative numbers in the range

    Dim c As Range
    Dim lCounter As Long
    Dim lMaxCount As Long
 
    Application.Volatile
    lCounter = 0
    lMaxCount = 0
    On Error Resume Next
    For Each c In rng.Cells
        If c.Value < 0 Then
            lCounter = lCounter + 1
            If lCounter > lMaxCount Then
                lMaxCount = lCounter
            End If
        Else
            lCounter = 0
        End If
    Next c
 
    MaxNegSequence = lMaxCount
End Function

To use the function, just place a formula similar to the following in your worksheet:

= MaxNegSequence(A1:A512)

Note:

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ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11105) 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: Counting Consecutive Negative Numbers.

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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Comments

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What is 3 - 3?

2021-10-07 06:11:01

Lars

Mike:

I have office 365.
So that does not explain what is wrong.


2021-10-06 06:45:18

Mike

Lars:

I am not getting Roy's formula to work either.

If the formula is entered as shown, then I get either 1 or 0, but If I enter the formula as an array formula (ctrl+shft+enter) I always get 1.

Even more bizarre is that I have the exact same formula in F7 and F8, and often get different results, but if I put the formula in F7 and G7, the result is always the same.

The only thing I can think of is that the formula needs Office365 - I am using Excel 2010.


2021-10-05 10:52:28

Lars

Roy:
It only returns 1, no matter how many there are in the column.


2021-10-02 06:28:52

Roy

If your data is in the range A1:A50, then in the cell you want the result place the following formula:

=MAX( IF( A1:A50>=0, 0, B1:B50+1 ) )

Even though it feels like it should produce an error, it will not. And it matches the helper column data row for row if you strip off the MAX() to check their matching.

Of course, MAX() then returns the greatest value which is what is asked for: the longest run of negative numbers in the data set.

(Technically? "Or tied for" the longest run of negative numbers in the set, but only that value is asked for, not how many sets like that are present, or the address/es for the one or more than one such run.)


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