# Excel COLUMN function

## Summary

The Excel COLUMN function is used to return the column number of a cell reference. It’s a straightforward function that’s especially useful in formulas where you need to know the column position of a reference. This function can handle both single cell references and ranges, providing different outputs depending on the context.
##### Syntax
```				```
=COLUMN([reference])
```
```
• reference: [Optional] The cell or range of cells for which you want the column number. If omitted, COLUMN returns the column number of the cell where the formula is entered.
##### Return value
Returns the column number(s) of the specified cell or range.

## How to use

To use the COLUMN function, simply enter a cell reference as the argument. If you leave the argument blank, COLUMN returns the column number of the cell containing the formula. For ranges, it returns the column numbers for the entire range, which in Excel 365 and later versions will spill across multiple cells.

## Examples

##### Simple COLUMN
Column Number of a Single Cell:
```				```
=COLUMN(B3)

```
```
Returns 2, as B3 is in the second column.
##### COLUMN without Reference
Automatic Reference to Current Cell:
```				```
=COLUMN()

```
```
Entered in cell E5, this formula returns 5, the column number of E5.
##### COLUMN with Range
Column Numbers for a Range:
```				```
=COLUMN(C2:E2)
```
```
Returns {3,4,5} in Excel 365, representing the column numbers for C2, D2, and E2.
##### COLUMN in Excel Pre-365

First Column Number in a Range:

```				```
=COLUMN(F2:H2)
```
```
In pre-Excel 365, this formula would return 6, the column number of the first cell (F2) in the range.
##### COLUMN with Implicit Intersection
Single Value from a Range in Excel 365:
```				```
=@COLUMN(F2:H2)

```
```
Returns 6 in Excel 365 due to implicit intersection (using the @ operator), representing the first column in the range.