where n comes from cell F4, which contains 40. The result is 5, since there are 5 cells in B5:B15 that contain more than 40 characters. The formula returns 5 since there are five cells in B5:B15 that contain more than 40 characters.

Reference calculation

The formula in C5, copied down, is based on the LEN function: This calculation is provided for reference only and is not used by the formula above. The counts in column C make it easy to quickly check results.

Checking length

Working from the inside out, the number of characters in each cell is calculated with the LEN function like this: The LEN function runs on the range B5:B15. Because we give LEN multiple values, it returns multiple results in an array like this: Each number in the array is the length of a cell in B5:B15. This array is evaluated with the logical expression “>F4”, which creates an array of TRUE FALSE values: Each TRUE corresponds to a cell that contains more than 40 characters, since cell F4 contains 40. To convert the TRUE and FALSE values to their numeric equivalents, we use the N function: Note: the double negative (–) is another way to convert TRUE/FALSE to 1/0. The result is an array of 1s and 0s:

Counting results

This array is returned directly to the SUMPRODUCT function, which returns the sum of numbers in the array: The final result is 5. Since n is provided as a variable in cell F4, it can be changed at any time and the formula will recalculate and return a new result.

COUNTIFS function

This is an example of a problem that can’t be solved directly with the COUNTIFS function. This is because COUNTIFS requires a range and won’t allow processing of an array like that returned by the LEN function above. However, if you don’t mind using a helper column, you could use COUNTIFS on column C like this: The result is the same as the SUMPRODUCT formula above. Note the greater than operator (>) is enclosed in double quotes ("") and concatenated to F4.

Dave Bruns

Hi - I’m Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.