Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Finding the Date Associated with a Negative Value.

Finding the Date Associated with a Negative Value

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 1, 2020)

2

Stuart has a series of readings in a worksheet. In the first column he has dates associated with the readings and in the second column he has the actual readings. Stuart would like to have a formula that will return the first date at which a reading became negative. In other words, the formula should look for the first value that is negative in the second column and then return the date associated with that value. There can be multiple negative values in the second column, but he needs only the date associated with the first negative value.

There are a number of ways that this problem can be approached. All of the methods presume that the dates in column A are in ascending order and that the readings in column B are not in any type of discernible order. (In other words, the readings could bounce above and below 0 on any given date.)

Provided that you have some control over the layout of the worksheet, you could add an intermediate work column in column C, used to indicate when a value is negative. Simply place a formula like this in column C, to the right of each reading:

=IF(B1<0,A1,"")

This formula returns the date in column A if the value in B is below 0 (negative), otherwise it returns nothing. All you then need to do is look for the minimum value in column C:

=MIN(C:C)

Format the result as a date, and it represents the date at which the readings first became negative.

Another approach is to forego the use of the intermediate column and use an array formula to determine the date. Assuming the data is in the range A1:B42, you can use any of the following formulas:

=MIN(IF(B1:B42<0,A1:A42,""))
=OFFSET($A$1,MATCH(TRUE,$B$1:$B$42<0,0)-1,,,)
=INDEX(A:A,MIN(IF(B1:B42<0,ROW(B1:B42))))
=INDEX(A1:A42,MATCH(TRUE,B1:B42<0,0))
=INDIRECT("A"&MIN(IF(B1:B42<0,ROW(B1:B42))),TRUE)

Remember that these are all array formulas, so you need to enter whichever one you choose by pressing Shift+Ctrl+Enter. Format the result as a date, and it is the answer you seek.

If you prefer, you could also use a simple macro to determine the date:

Function GetFirstNegative(rngdata)
    Dim c As Variant

    For Each c In rngdata
        If c < 0 Then
            GetFirstNegative = c.Offset(0, -1)
            Exit Function
        Else
            GetFirstNegative = "All Data is Positive"
        End If
    Next
End Function

In your worksheet, you would use this user-defined function in this manner:

=GetFirstNegative(B1:B42)

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 (12321) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Finding the Date Associated with a Negative 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

X-ing Out Text

You can easily use strikethrough formatting to show deleted text in a document. What if you want to actually overprint ...

Discover More

Creating a Drop Cap

Drop caps can be a nice finishing touch for some types of documents. Word allows you to create three types of drop caps, ...

Discover More

AutoFill Won't Work as Expected

AutoFill is a great tool for filling cells with data. What do you do when it doesn't work like you expect, however? ...

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)

Finding the Lowest Numbers

Need to find the lowest numbers in a range of values? It's easy to do using the SMALL worksheet function, or you can use ...

Discover More

Using the INT Worksheet Function

The INT function allows you to convert a value to an integer. The effect the function has depends on the characteristics ...

Discover More

Making VLOOKUP Case Sensitive

The VLOOKUP function, like other lookup functions in Excel, is not case sensitive. In other words, it doesn't matter ...

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 five more than 5?

2016-10-01 21:16:15

John Fistere

I had some difficulty testing your formulas at first because the normal copy and paste process completes the entry process and then Ctrl+Shift+Enter no longer works. I found that I had to go back and highlight (select) the formula in the formula bar and then do Ctrl+Shift+Enter.

Thanks for the formulas!


2016-10-01 15:17:21

Greg

I enjoy the TIPS in my mail box. I look for them before anything else when I sign in to my mail box! Please keep up the GREAT work I have learned a tremendous amount from each one of them.


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.