COUNTIF vs COUNTIFS in Excel (4 Examples)

COUNTIF vs COUNTIFS is a key phrase to differentiate between two functions; COUNTIF and COUNTIFS. The COUNTIF function is a Statistical function that counts cells based on a criterion. On the other hand, the COUNTIFS function imposes multiple criteria to multiple ranges and then counts those cells that match all the criteria in respective ranges. In this article, we demonstrate the core differences between the COUNTIF and COUNTIFS functions with examples.


In the above screenshot, we display an overview of the COUNTIF and COUNTIFS function’s operability and outcomes.

Excel COUNTIF vs COUNTIFS Functions: Syntax and Arguments

🔄 Function Objective:

COUNTIF; counts cells that meet a criterion within a range.

COUNTIFS; counts cells that meet multiple criteria within multiple ranges.

🔄 Syntax:

COUNTIF (range, criteria)


COUNTIFS(criteria_range1, criteria1, [criteria_range2, criteria2]…)


 🔄 Arguments Explanation:

Argument Required/Optional Explanation
 range/criteria_range Required only or first range where respective criteria is applied
 criteria/criteria1 Required the only or first criteria we provide to count or match cells within a range or criteria_range
criteria_range2, criteria2 Optional additional range and their respective criteria up to 127 of them are applicable.

🔄 Return Parameter:

A number of existing cells that meet the single criterion or criteria.

🔄 Applies To:

Microsoft Excel version 2007, Excel MAC version 2011, and onwards.

1. Basics of COUNTIF and COUNTIFS Functions

As we know from the syntax, the COUNTIF function takes only one range and a single criterion. On the contrary, the COUNTIFS function takes multiple criteria to be imposed in multiple ranges. In this case, we indicate the basic differences in these two functions according to their syntax.

COUNTIF Function

The COUNTIF function operates with a single range and criterion.

We apply the below formula to come up with a number of cells that satisfy a given criterion.


In the formula,

C8:C19; is the range.

C8; direct the criterion.

basic countif vs countifs

Press ENTER, the formula counts all the cells containing text “Boston” (i.e., C8).

counif result

From the dataset, we can see there are 4 matches, and the formula returns 4 maintaining just one criterion i.e. C8.

If we are interested in adding another criterion in the COUNTIF function Excel won’t allow us, in that case, we have to use the COUNTIFS function instead.


Similar to the COUNTIF function the COUNTIFS counts cells, but it allows multiple criteria to be imposed in multiple ranges. Let’s extend the previous criteria we use for COUNTIF. We add another two criteria to fetch the number of cells that match all the criteria imposed.

Paste the following formula in any cell (i.e., D5).


Inside the formula, we impose three criteria (i.e., C9, D8, & E12) in three different ranges (i.e., C8:C19,D8:D19, & E8:E19).


Hit ENTER, the number of cells matching all three criteria appears.

countifs result

From the dataset, we see only one entry matches all the imposed criteria as the formula returns. We can apply up to 127 criteria, however, for better understanding and representation we are applying two or three conditions at a time.

In the end, the following image depicts the basic difference between these two functions.

Basic comparison countif vs countifs

Read More: VBA COUNTIF Function in Excel (6 Examples)

2. Handling Multiple Criteria with COUNTIF and COUNTIFS

The COUNTIF function can’t handle multiple criteria whereas the COUNTIFS function does it naturally. We can use multiple COUNTIF functions in addition to inserting multiple criteria, but it returns all the cells’ numbers for each criterion and then adds them. On the contrary, we simply insert multiple criteria to be imposed in multiple ranges.

With COUNTIF Function

To insert multiple criteria, we use multiple COUNTIF functions and then assign a criterion in each with a different range,

Type the following formula in any adjacent cell (i.e., D4).


Inside the formula, we use three COUNTIF functions to assign three ranges and criteria.

multiple criteria

After Pressing ENTER, the number of matched cells appears similar to the below image.

multiple criteria

If we inspect the dataset, we see the COUNTIF formula adds all the cells that match the criteria to respective ranges, not the number of cells that satisfy all the criteria. And it’s the main drawback of the COUNTIF function.

With COUNTIFS Function

Now, if we want to count the number of cells that satisfy the same three criteria using the COUNTIFS function, it returns a different number, and the dataset backs it.

Write the following formula in any cell (i.e., D5).


The formula declares criteria (i.e., C8,D9,& E10) to match in ranges (i.e., C8:C19,D8:D19, & E8:E19) respectively.

multiple criteria

Afterwards you Hit ENTER, the number of matched cells appears similar to the below picture.

countifs result

We can ensure the result using the dataset that only one entry matches all three criteria.

In comparison, we can see the following image as core dissimilarity handling multiple criteria by COUNTIF vs COUNTIFS functions.

Read More: How to Use Excel COUNTIF That Does Not Contain Multiple Criteria

Similar Readings

3. Counting Cells with COUNTIF and COUNTIFS

In Excel, we often count non-blank text cells. In that case, COUNTIF and COUNTIFS both perform well. The issue arises when we insert a particular text string to be counted in the non-blank text cells.

With COUNTIF Function

COUNTIF only counts the non-blank text cells, any imposed condition or certain text can’t be performed.

⏩  Type the following formula in any cell (i.e., D4).


 “*” enables the formula to count non-blank text cells from the dataset.

counting cell

As you hit ENTER, you see the number of non-blank text cells as shown in the image below.

countif result

There are 36 text cells existing in the dataset and the formula returns it.

With COUNTIFS Function

The COUNTIFS function can count the same text non-blank cells as the COUNTIF function does but it offers an option to match the certain text within the text cells.

  Write the below formula in any cell (i.e., D5).


 “*” enables to count all the text cells within the range and “*rk” matches with text cells that have rk at their end.

counting cell-COUNTIFS

After Pressing ENTER, you see only 4 entries as such that have rk at their end as shown in the below picture.

countifs result

If we compare these two operations, we see commonness in their working process but multi-dimensions in just the COUNTIFS function’s result.


Read More: Count Blank Cells with Excel COUNTIF Function: 2 Examples

4. Finding a Match with COUNTIF and COUNTIFS

Similar to counting cells, we can count cells based on a specific text; partial or full. With wildcards, we can search for a partial match text in the dataset.

With COUNTIF Function

The COUNTIF function matches a partial text while we enter the text with wildcards (i.e., *) in the formula. We can use other wildcards such as an asterisk (*), question mark (?), and tilde (~).

Write the following formula in any cell (i.e., D4).


The formula matches texts that have Chip at the end. And the “*Chip” works as a criterion.


⏩ To bring out the result Hit ENTER, the matching number of cells that obey the criterion appears like the below picture.


With COUNTIFS Function

The COUNTIFS matches the text as COUNTIF does but it takes additional texts to satisfy criteria. By combining them we have a match that tends to be very useful searching entries in huge datasets.

Paste the following formula in any cell (i.e., D5).


The formula matches both “*ers” and “*eat” in the end within the ranges.


Press ENTER, and the matched number of the cells appears.


Just looking at the dataset, you can tell only one entry matches the imposed criteria.

The below picture offers an overview of what we want to differentiate between the functions. Though it seems it’s an example of imposing multiple criteria, we can still use it to find the matches from any dataset.

match final-COUNTIF vs COUNTIFS

Read More: Count Text at Start with COUNTIF & LEFT Functions in Excel

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I hope the above-described examples of the COUNTIF vs COUNTIFS functions offer you a basic differentiation in their usage. Also, I think this article provides a clear concept about where to use the COUNTIF and COUNTIFS functions. If you have further queries or feedback, please let me know in the comment section.

Further Readings

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Maruf Islam
Maruf Islam

MARUF ISLAM is an excellent marine engineer who loves working with Excel and diving into VBA programming. For him, programming is like a superhero tool that saves time when dealing with data, files, and the internet. His skills go beyond the basics, including ABACUS, AutoCAD, Rhinoceros, Maxsurf, and Hydromax. He got his B.Sc in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering from BUET, and now he's switched gears, working as a content developer. In this role, he creates techy content... Read Full Bio

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