## How to use the FREQUENCY function

The FREQUENCY function calculates how often values occur within a range of values and returns a vertical array of numbers. It returns an array that is one more item larger than the bins_array.

The image above demonstrates the FREQUENCY function cell range F3:F6.

This formula must be entered as an array formula, however, Excel 365 subscribers may and should enter it as a regular formula. The formula will automatically extend or "spill" values to cells below as far as needed provided the cells are empty.

Microsoft calls these formulas "dynamic arrays" and Excel returns #SPILL! error if cells below are not empty.

Follow these steps to create an array formula if you own an earlier Excel version. I am using the example above, see image above.

### Excel Function Syntax

FREQUENCY(*data_array*, *bins_array*)

### Arguments

data_array |
An array or cell range for which you want to determine frequencies. |

bins_array |
The intervals which you want to group the values in. |

### Comment

The FREQUENCY function returns two or more values in a vertical array, blank cells and text strings are ignored. This means that you can only use the function with numerical values.

**Table of contents**

## 1. FREQUENCY function example

(Array) formula in cell range D3:D6:

### 1.1 How to enter an array formula

- Select cell range D3:D6
- Type the formula.
- Press and hold CTRL + SHIFT keys simultaneously.
- Press Enter once. Release all keyboard keys.

The formula will now begin and end with a curly bracket, like this: {=array_formula}

They appear automatically, do not enter these characters yourself.

**1.2 Explaining formula**

The first argument is data_array and the second one is bins_array: FREQUENCY(*data_array*, *bins_array*)

FREQUENCY(B3:B10, C3:C5)

becomes

FREQUENCY({1; 2; 2; 5; 4; 7; 7; 10}, {2; 5; 10})

and returns a vertical array of numbers: {**3**; **2**; **3**; **0**}.

There are **3** values that are smaller or equal to the first value (2) in the bins_array: 1, 2, 2.

There are **2** values that are larger than 2 and smaller or equal to the second value (5) in the bins_array: 4, 5

There are **3** values that are larger than 5 and smaller or equal to the third value (10) in the bins_array: 7, 7, 10

There are **0** (zero) values that are larger than 10 in the bins_array.

## 2. FREQUENCY function with a condition

The image above shows the FREQUENCY function entered in F3:F6 using an IF function to filter values based on a condition.

Array formula in cell range F3:F6:

### 2.1 Explaining the calculation

I recommend using the "Evaluate Formula" feature to learn more about formulas. This tool allows you to examine formula calculations in detail. It also lets you troubleshoot formulas, what is making my formula return an error?

Go to tab "Formulas" on the ribbon and press with left mouse button on the "Evaluate Formula" button. A dialog box appears, press with left mouse button on the "Evaluate" button to move to the next step in formula calculation. Press with left mouse button on "Close" button to dismiss the dialog box.

#### Step 1 - Filter values

The IF function lets you return a value if a logical expression returns TRUE and another value if FALSE, the logical expression usually returns a boolean value but their equivalents work just fine. FALSE -> 0 (zero), TRUE -> any number.

IF(B3:B10="A",C3:C10,"")

We want to compare the values in cell range B3:B10 with "A" and if they match then return the corresponding value on the same row in cell range C3:C10. IF no match return a blank "".

IF(B3:B10="A",C3:C10,"")

becomes

IF({"A"; "B"; "A"; "B"; "A"; "B"; "A"; "B"}="A",{1; 2; 2; 5; 4; 7; 7; 10},"")

becomes

IF({TRUE; FALSE; TRUE; FALSE; TRUE; FALSE; TRUE; FALSE}, {1; 2; 2; 5; 4; 7; 7; 10},"")

and returns this array: {1; ""; 2; ""; 4; ""; 7; ""}.

#### Step 2 - Frequency

The FREQUENCY function uses the array from the IF function in the first argument, blank values "" are ignored.

FREQUENCY(IF(B3:B10="A",C3:C10,""),E3:E5)

becomes

FREQUENCY({1; ""; 2; ""; 4; ""; 7; ""},E3:E5)

becomes

FREQUENCY({1; ""; 2; ""; 4; ""; 7; ""},{2; 5; 7})

and returns {2; 1; 1;0} in cell range F3:F6.

The image above shows what the FREQUENCY function returns if you use the same numbers in the data_array and the bins_array.

Formula in cell range D3:D11:

The FREQUENCY function counts how many values there are for each number for the first instance of a particular number. For example, value 10 exist only once and the function returns 1.

Value 7 exists twice in the list and the corresponding value in the array returns 2, however, only the first instance returns the count. The remaining values for that particular value returns 0 (zero).

This can be used to identify unique distinct numbers in a list among many other things. Check out the FREQUENCY function category to find formulas that contains the FREQUENCY function.

## 3. FREQUENCY function and 3D ranges

This example demonstrates how to use the FREQUENCY function with 3D references. 3D ranges are cell ranges across worksheets meaning a cell reference to a specified number of worksheets in a workbook.

This lets you work with data from multiple worksheets using the FREQUENCY function, I will show you how to build such formula. Other Excel functions that can work with 3D ranges are SUM, AVERAGE, AVERAGEA, COUNT, COUNTA, MAX, MAXA, MIN, MINA, PRODUCT, STDEV, STDEVA, STDEVP, STDEVPA, VAR, VARA, VARP, VARPA functions

Array formula in cell D3:

=FREQUENCY('3D range:3D range1'!B3:B10, B3:B10)

### 3.1 How to enter a formula containing 3D ranges

The formula contains a 3-D reference to a range of worksheet names, make sure you rearrange the worksheets so only worksheets you want to include are being used.

- Select cell range D3:D10.
- Press with left mouse button on in the formula bar, the prompt appears.
- Type =FREQUENCY(
- Press and hold SHIFT key.
- Select the last worksheet you want to include in the FREQUENCY function.
- Release SHIFT key.
- Select cell range B3:B10 with the mouse.
- Type , (comma)
- Select cell range B3:B10 with the mouse.
- Now enter the formula as an array formula (Excel 365 users can skip this step and simply press Enter).
- Here are the steps sto enter an array formula.
- Press and hold CTRL + SHIFT keys simultaneously.
- Press Enter once.
- Release all keys.

The formula has now a leading and trailing curly bracket, like this: {=array_formula]

Don't enter these characters yourself, they appear automatically. The image above does not show these characters because I use Excel 365 which uses dynamic array formulas that automatically spill values to cells below.

### 3.2 How to rearrange worksheets

The image above shows three worksheet names, "3D range", "Sheet7", and "3D range1". We want to move worksheet "Sheet7" so it is not included in the FREQUENCY function.

- Press and hold with mouse on worksheet name "Sheet7".
- Drag with mouse to move the worksheet tab to a new location.
- Release the mouse button to release the worksheet tab.

The image above shows "Sheet7" in a new location, you can now create a 3D reference to worksheets "3D range" and "3D range1".

## 4. Excel file

### Articles with the 'FREQUENCY' Function

The following 5 articles have formulas that contain the FREQUENCY function.

Count unique distinct values that meet multiple criteria

This post demonstrates how to build an array formula that counts unique distinct values based on criteria. What's on this […]

How to count unique distinct values based on a date

The array formula in cell D3 calculates the number of unique distinct items based on the given date in column B. […]

Count unique distinct values within same week, month or year

The array formula in cell E3 counts unique distinct items for all dates within the same week. Example, week 2 […]

Extract the most repeated adjacent values in a column

The array formula in cell D3 returns the the length of longest consecutive sequence of a value in column A. Cell […]

Can someone explain to me why this happens? This example is working. FREQUENCY function returns {2; 1; 1}. 2 values (0.1 and […]

### Functions in 'Statistical'

The FREQUENCY function function is one of many functions in the 'Statistical' category.

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The AVEDEV function calculates the average of the absolute deviations of data points from their mean. The absolute deviation from the […]

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The AVERAGEIF function returns the average of cell values that are valid for a given condition. Formula in cell D3: […]

How to use the AVERAGEIFS function

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The CONFIDENCE.T function calculates the confidence range for a population mean using a Student's t distribution. Formula in cell C7: […]

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The CORREL function calculates the correlation between two groups of numbers. Formula in cell B12: =CORREL(C3:C9, D3:D9) The value in cell […]

The COUNT function counts all numerical values in an argument, it allows you to have up to 255 arguments. Blank […]

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The COUNTA function counts the non-empty or blank cells in a cell reference. The picture above demonstrates the COUNTA function […]

How to use the COUNTBLANK function

The COUNTBLANK function counts empty or blank cells in a range. The picture above demonstrates the COUNTBLANK function entered in […]

How to use the COUNTIF function

Counts the number of cells that meet a specific condition.

How to use the COUNTIFS function

Checks multiple conditions against the same number of cell ranges and counts how many times all criteria are met.

How to use the COVARIANCE.P function

The COVARIANCE.P function calculates the covariance meaning the average of the products of deviations for each pair in two different […]

How to use the COVARIANCE.S function

The COVARIANCE.S function calculates the sample covariance meaning the average of the products of deviations for each pair in two […]

How to use the EXPON.DIST function

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How to use the F.DIST function

The F.DIST function calculates the F probability for two tests. This function was introduced in Excel 2010 and has replaced […]

How to use the F.DIST.RT function

The F.DIST.RT function calculates the right-tailed F probability for two tests. This function was introduced in Excel 2010 and has replaced […]

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How to use the FORECAST.LINEAR function

The FORECAST.LINEAR function calculates a value based on existing x and y values using linear regression. Use this function to […]

How to use the FREQUENCY function

Returns how many times values exist in a given range. Note, this function returns an array of values.

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How to use the GAMMA.DIST function

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How to use the GEOMEAN function

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The INTERCEPT function returns a value representing the y-value where a line intersects the y-axis. The line is calculated using […]

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How to use the MODE.SNGL function

The MODE.SNGL function calculates the most frequent value in an array or cell range. Excel Function Syntax MODE.SNGL(number1,[number2],...) Arguments number1 […]

How to use the NORM.DIST function

The NORM.DIST function calculates the normal distribution for a given mean and standard deviation. Formula in cell C7: =NORM.DIST(C2,C3,C4,C5) Excel […]

How to use the NORM.INV function

The NORM.INV function calculates the inverse of the normal cumulative distribution for a given mean and standard deviation. Formula in […]

How to use the PERCENTRANK.EXC function

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How to use the PERCENTRANK.INC function

The PERCENTRANK.INC function calculates the percent rank of a given number compared to the whole data set. The image above […]

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### 3 Responses to “How to use the FREQUENCY function”

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Oscar,

Often I see spreadsheets that have used the Histogram feature (in the Data Analysis Tools) to create a frequency distribution. Although this works, it has one major drawback: it is static. If the data changes, then the Histogram count does not update so it may be wrong.

Using the FREQUENCY function, as you demonstrate in this article, is a much better solution.

Cheers,

Bob.

[…] Frequency function […]

I tried frequency function many time but it does not work as shown in Example 2.

- First, I type the formula: =Frequency(B3:B10,C:C5)

- Then I press ctrl+shift+enter

- The result is only one value of 3 instead of an array as it is supposed to be

Please tell me why? Thank you