Summing When the First Character Matches a Value

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 22, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


George has a worksheet where the first row, in the range B1:AK1, contains part numbers. Some part numbers begin with X and others begin with Y. He wonders if there is a way to use SUMIF (or some other function) to sum the range B2:AK212 only for those columns in which the first cell in the column (B1:AK1) contains an "X" as the first character in the part number.

One way to accomplish this task is to use the SUMPRODUCT function along with the LEFT function to determine if the part number in the first row starts with an X or not:

=SUMPRODUCT((LEFT(B$1:AK$1,1)="X")*B2:AK212)

The LEFT function returns the leftmost character of the part number and compares it to X. If it is equal, then the result is 1; if not equal then it is 0. This resulting value (1 or 0) is then multiplied by the individual cells in the data range. The result is your desired sum.

If you must use the SUMIF function for some reason, there are two ways you could approach the problem. First, you could add the following into cell AL2:

=SUMIF(B$1:AK$1,"X*",B2:AK2)

This results in a sum of just the cells in row 2 that have a part number beginning with X. Copy the cell downward to cells AL3:AL212, and then sum the column.

The other approach is to add a totals row at the bottom of your data. Thus, you could use the following in cell B213:

=SUM(B2:B212)

Copy this formula to the other cells on the row (C213 through AK213) and then you can use this formula to get your desired sum:

=SUMIF(B1:AK1,"X*",B213:AK213)

In this case, SUMIF is checking the first row (where the part numbers are) and summing the appropriate cells from the totals you just added in row 213.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13471) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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