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

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 2, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365

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:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

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. ...

##### MORE FROM ALLEN

Changing Print Dialog Box Defaults

Some of the built-in defaults in Word can't be changed. Often times, however, you can work around these defaults by using ...

Discover More

Understanding the Select Case Structure

Programming structures are an important tool used by any programmer. The VBA language used by Word's macros includes ...

Discover More

Converting to Other Number Systems

Most calculations are done using the decimal numbering system. If you need to convert your decimal values to a differing ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

##### More ExcelTips (ribbon)

When you are working with sequenced values in a list, you’ll often want to take some action based on the top X or ...

Discover More

Extracting Street Numbers from an Address

Want to know how to move pieces of information contained in one cell into individual cells? This option exists if using ...

Discover More

Finding Circular References

If you have circular references in a workbook, you may see an error message appear when you first open that workbook. If ...

Discover More
##### Subscribe

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

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 two more than 4?

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.)

##### 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.