Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Referring to the Last Cell.

Referring to the Last Cell

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 10, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


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There may be times when you are putting together a workbook and you want to keep a summary on one worksheet and detail information on another. For instance, let's suppose Sheet1 is your summary worksheet, and you have detailed information for bank accounts on Sheet2. In looking at the detail information, you have dates in column A, and balances for different accounts in columns B, C, and D. Thus, the detailed information is a table that shows a running progression of bank balances on different dates.

In putting together your summary information on Sheet1, you realize that you need to reference the last figures in columns B, C, and D. These figures represent the latest balances, and thus are perfect for your summary. How do you do it? Particularly when you continue to add information to your detail worksheet over time?

Actually, there are several ways to approach the problem. (There are typically several ways to solve any Excel problem.) One way is to use the VLOOKUP function. At the point in the summary where you want the latest balance from column B of the detail (Sheet2), you would put the following formula:

=VLOOKUP(MAX(Sheet2!$A:$A),Sheet2!$A:$D,2)

To change references for the other two account balances, you would simply change the last number (2) to either 3 (for the account in column C) or 4 (for the account in column D). The function works because it looks up the maximum value in column A, which contains dates. It then looks in the data table (Sheet2!$A:$D) and finds the appropriate offset for the desired column.

This approach works fine, provided there are no dates in column A past the last balances entered. If there are, then the values returned will always be incorrect.

Another way to approach the problem is to use the INDEX function in conjunction with either COUNT or COUNTA. If the detail columns don't contain any text (even in the column headers), then you would use the COUNT function. If there is text included, then COUNTA is preferred. At the point where you want to include the last balance from column B of the detail, you would use the following formula:

=INDEX(Sheet2!B:B,COUNTA(Sheet2!B:B))

It looks into the table, determines the number of non-blank cells in column B, and then pulls the figure from that last non-blank cell. To adapt the formula for columns C and D, simply change the B references to the appropriate C or D.

Still another way to deal with the problem is to use the OFFSET function, as in the following:

=OFFSET(Sheet2!B1,COUNTA(Sheet2!B:B)-1,0)

This function returns the value of a cell offset from a base reference cell. In this case, the base cell is Sheet2!B1. The COUNTA function is used to determine how many rows to offset from the base, and the 0 specifies that the offset should be in the same column as the base reference. To change the formula for columns C and D, simply change all references to B to either C or D.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12470) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Referring to the Last Cell.

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 two more than 7?

2022-12-18 09:54:47

J. Woolley

Apologies for the poor formatting in my previous comment, making it almost unreadable. I tried to submit my comment over several days but it was repeatedly blocked as spam. Each time I clicked the option to request review. Apparently it was finally reviewed and accepted, but the line breaks did not survive.
I wish I knew why some comments are interpreted as spam. However, my compliments to Allen for publishing these Tips and permitting these comments.


2022-12-18 07:32:38

Alex Blakenburg

One of the things I love about XLOOKUP is that it doesn't just return the value, it returns the Cell, so you can use it to define the range in another function or in the Names Manager. Index in combination with the new XMATCH would work the same way.


2022-12-17 10:21:10

J. Woolley

The goal is the value of the last non-blank cell in column B of Sheet2. Alex Blakenburg's formula is very clever:=XLOOKUP(TRUE,Sheet2!B:B<>"",Sheet2!B:B,"",0,-1)Sheet2!B:B<>"" is a TRUE/FALSE array of all non-blank cells in column B. The formula searches that array in the reverse direction (bottom-up) for the first TRUE and returns the value from the corresponding row in column B (or "" if TRUE is not found). Here is a similar formula based on a TRUE/FALSE array of all blank cells in column B:=XLOOKUP(FALSE,ISBLANK(Sheet2!B:B),Sheet2!B:B,"",0,-1)Modern versions of Excel have 1,048,576 rows. These formulas first populate an array of that size, then evaluate that array starting at the last item (number 1,048,576) and working toward the first item.Here are two forms of the traditional formula that work in any version of Excel:=LOOKUP(2,1/(Sheet2!B:B<>""),Sheet2!B:B)=LOOKUP(2,1/NOT(ISBLANK(Sheet2!B:B)),Sheet2!B:B)These evaluate in the top-down direction, so they might be faster. For details, see https://exceljet.net/formulas/get-value-of-last-non-empty-cellAnd here are two formulas that use SUMPRODUCT, but they might be slower:=INDEX(Sheet2!B:B,SUMPRODUCT(MAX((Sheet2!B:B<>"")*ROW(Sheet2!B:B))))=INDEX(Sheet2!B:B,SUMPRODUCT(MAX(NOT(ISBLANK(Sheet2!B:B))*ROW(Sheet2!B:B))))If you know the pratical limit for non-blank rows in Sheet2 column B is less than 10,000, for example, you might replace Sheet2!B:B in these formulas with Sheet2!B1:B9999. This would correspond to over 27 years of daily entries.


2022-12-10 07:53:38

Alex Blakenburg

If you have MS365 or Excel 2021 XLOOKUP is a much more reliable way of getting the last row, eg
=XLOOKUP(TRUE, Sheet2!B:B<>"", Sheet2!B:B, "", 0, -1)

The functions using COUNTA assume your data starts in Row 1 and that every row is populated.


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