How to use MAX function in Excel (6 Examples)

There are several statistical functions in Excel to help you perform your desired tasks easily and swiftly. Today we are going to show you how to use a function called: MAX. For this session, we are using Excel 2019, feel free to use yours (at least 2003).

Overview - Excel MAX function

Practice Workbook

You are welcome to download the practice workbook from the link below.

MAX Function

1. Basics of MAX

The MAX Function is categorized under Excel STATISTICAL functions. This function returns the largest value in a given list of arguments.

Syntax - Excel MAX function

Summary

Returns the largest value in a set of values. Ignores logical values and text.

Syntax

MAX (number1, [number2], ...)

Arguments

number1: Number, reference to a numeric value, or range that contains numeric values.

number2: [Optional] Additional numbers, cell references, or ranges of numeric values.

You can provide up to a maximum of 255 number arguments.

Versions

Workable from Excel 2003.

2. Uses of MAX

I. MAX for Rows

Using the MAX function, you can find the maximum or highest value of a row.

We have brought a data table of students with their respective scores in three quizzes to show examples.

Row example dataset - Excel MAX function

Now we are set to find the highest value from each row. Our formula for the first row will be

=MAX(C4:E4)

C4 to E4 is the Cell Reference of the first row.

Row example result- Excel MAX function

Our formula has provided the highest score for Angela in the quizzes.

A similar formula (changes in the Cell Reference) will provide the maximum value for the rest of the rows.

Row example result autofill- Excel MAX function

II. MAX for Columns

Similar to the rows the MAX function can be used for the columns to find the largest value from the columns.

For example, we can find the highest score for each quiz from our previously used dataset.

Column example dataset - Excel MAX function

Scores for quizzes are stored in three columns. Our formula will be

=MAX(C4:C9)

Within the function, we have inserted the Cell Reference for the first column.

Column example result - Excel MAX function

We have found the highest score for Quiz 1. Similarly, we can find the largest for the rest of the columns.

Column example result autofill- Excel MAX function

III. MAX for Entire Data

If you need to find the maximum from the entire table or dataset, what will you do? No worries, simple answer, need to use the MAX function for the entire dataset.

To show you examples, we have introduced a dataset of several items with prices in different shops.

Entire data example dataset - Excel MAX function

We are aiming to find the largest value from the dataset and our formula will be

=MAX(C4:E9)

Entire data example result - Excel MAX function

We have found the maximum value from our table.

IV. MAX for Non-Adjacent Columns

You can find the maximum from the non-adjacent columns using the MAX function.

We are using the previous dataset for this example.

Entire data example dataset - Excel MAX function

Let we want to find the largest from Shop1 and Shop3. 

The formula will be

=MAX(C4:C9,E4:E9)

Here we have set the column references separated by comma (,).

Non-adjacent column formula- Excel MAX function

The formula provided the maximum value for the two non-adjacent columns.

Non -adjacent column result - Excel MAX function

V. Recent Date using MAX

MAX can be used for finding the most recent date from the dataset.

Here we have a dataset of few items from a couple of shops and delivery date.

Date data - Excel MAX function

Write the MAX formula for the date column.

=MAX(D4:D9)

Date fetch - Excel MAX function

Excel stores dates as sequential serial numbers. By default 1 January 1900 is the 1st date, and its serial number is 1. The functions convert dates to their respective serial number before doing the operations.

The MAX function converts the dates into their respective serial numbers and finds the most recent date. Thus the formula returned the most recent date.

VI. MAX with criteria

You can find the maximum value comparing any criteria.

For example purpose, we have brought a dataset of several sports items and their quantity.

Criteria maximum - Excel MAX function

We can set our desired criteria, for example, here we have set criteria of Cricket Bats.  

Criteria maximum criteria set- Excel MAX function

We need to set the condition using the IF function. To know about the function, visit this IF article.

Our formula will be

=MAX(IF(C4:C12=G4,D4:D12))

The IF function checks whether the criteria have been matched or not, if matched then it triggers the MAX operation.

Criteria maximum result- Excel MAX function

Here we have found the highest quantity for Cricket Bats. If we change the criteria item the result will be changed.

Criteria changed - result changed - Excel MAX function

Note that, it is an array formula, you need to press CTRL+ SHIFT + ENTER to execute the formula.

3. Quick Notes

  1. You can set the Cell References separated by comma (,).

Comma separated cells - Excel MAX function

We have inserted 3 cells in the function and these are separated by a comma. And this worked fine.

Comma separated cells result - Excel MAX function

  1. Alongside the Cell References, you can insert the number in the function.

Comma separated cells and number- Excel MAX function

You will get the highest value among the inserted numbers.

Comma separated cells and number result- Excel MAX function

  1. Numbers can be inserted along with the ranges also.

Cell range and number - Excel MAX function

All you need to use comma (,) to separate range and number.

Cell range and number result- Excel MAX function

  1. Not only the cell references you can directly input the numbers into the function.

Comma separated numbers- Excel MAX function

You will get the largest value among them.

Comma separated numbers result- Excel MAX function

  1. Sometimes your provided cells may contain text or Boolean values.

Text - numbers in range - Excel MAX function

The MAX function will ignore anything but the numbers and return the largest value among them.

Text - numbers in range result- Excel MAX function

Conclusion

That’s all for today. We have tried showing how you can use the MAX function. You can use the function to fetch the largest value from ranges or numbers. Hope you will find this helpful.

Feel free to comment if anything seems difficult to understand. Let us know any of your MAX function-related scenarios where you have stuck, we are ready to help.


Further Readings

Shakil Ahmed

My name’s Shakil. My articles are targeted to support you in enriching knowledge regarding different features related to Microsoft Excel. I am fond of literature, hope some knowledge from them will help me providing you some engaging articles even though some weary technical terms.

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