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 How to find highest value in a row and return column header in Excel?

In this article, I will talk about how to return the column header of the largest value in a row in Excel. For Example, I have the following data range, column A is the year, and column B to F are populated the order numbers from Jan to May. And now, I want to get the month name of the largest value in each row.

doc-get-column-header-1

Find highest value in a row and return column header with formula


Select or highlight cells with max & min value in a range of cells or each column or row:

doc-get-column-header-4

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arrow blue right bubble Find highest value in a row and return column header with formula


To retrieve the column header of the largest value in a row, you can apply a combination of INDEX, MATCH and MAX functions to get the result. Please do as follows:

1. Enter this formula into a blank cell you need: =INDEX($B$1:$F$1,0,MATCH(MAX($B2:$F2),$B2:$F2,0)), and then press Enter key to get the month name which matches the largest value in a row. See screenshot:

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2. And then select the cell and drag the fill handle over to the range that you want to contain this formula, see screenshot:

doc-get-column-header-3

Note: In the above formula: B1: F1 is the headers row that you want to return, B2: F2 is the data range which contains the largest value you want to find.


Related article:

How to find the highest value and return adjacent cell value in Excel?


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  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    srosewall · 3 months ago
    Thank for this. It helped. Does it work the same way for a range of cells instead of just a row? I am trying to get the formula to return the column header (month) of the largest and smallest value in a range of cells? This is what I tried =INDEX($B$4:$M$4,0,MATCH(MAX($B5:$M42),$B5:$M42,0)) but it gives a #N/A answer
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Fernando · 4 months ago
    What happens if you have duplicate values in a row and you want the latest value's header. Is this possible?
    The current formula only returns the first match, but in my case I need to know the latest one
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Hemanta Das · 2 months ago
      hi. having same issue. Pls do reply if u have found the way out.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Trickshot Films · 4 months ago
    You're Aces Kid !!! ... this example worked perfect for my application: =INDEX($B$1:$F$1,0,MATCH(MAX($B2:$F2),$B2:$F2,0))

    ISA 40:31
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    Janice Matthies · 2 years ago
    Thank you so much!!!
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Kirthika · 2 years ago
    Hi, am trying to find lowest value in a row and the highest value on the corresponding column. Is there a formula or shortcut to find this. Please guide
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Sean · 2 years ago
    Thank you! very helpful!
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    dave · 2 years ago
    pardon: think my message dissappeard (2nd copy?)
    hi, i am trying to find the column number of a max number in 1 row of 5 cells. if i start from M9 to Q9 and the max number is in the middle cell: O9 the result looking for would be: 3. i cannot change the header cells to have: 1 2 3 4 5 as they get values pasted over.. if this is the same formula as above. how to i modify it to use column locations instead of header values. thanks:

    =INDEX(M1:Q1,0,MATCH(MAX(M9:Q9),M9:Q9,0))
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    dave · 2 years ago
    hi, i am having trouble finding an "unquote" :) column number for where the maximun number is. if i use columns M9 thru Q9 and the max is in the middle column: O9, that is the 3rd column in that range. i cannot put 1 2 3 4 5 in the header cells as they get values pasted over. if this is the same formula as above, how do i modify it to get a result eg: 3 for 3rd column in. thanks.

    =INDEX(M1:Q1,0,MATCH(MAX(M9:Q9),M9:Q9,0))
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    Stephanie · 2 years ago
    Hi, i want to make a list with names and grades and i want to find the 3 highest grades and the names that go with them i used the formula =INDEX(A3:A13,MATCH(LARGE(K3:K13,2),K3:K13,0)) but if two people have the same grade what happens??? can someone help me????
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    Liz · 2 years ago
    How can I do this if I want to return a row header rather than column header? I would also like to base the row number on a value in another cell that matches the column header. (So, look up column header and max value in that column, return the row header for that max value).
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    THANK YOU · 3 years ago
    OMFG THIS ARTICLE JUST SAVED ME HOURS OF WORK TODAY

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS SOLUTION. YOU ARE TRULY A GENIUS AND THIS METHOD IS MUCH APPRECIATED!!!!

    10/10
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    Joseph · 3 years ago
    Is it possible to have this function work with multiple tabs on the same spreadsheet?
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    MikeS · 3 years ago
    Great thank you, I'd have strugled creating that formula myself, kind of you to share.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Murtaza · 3 years ago
      Thanks. I would like to know how can this function work if there are multiple cells in a row with the same value ? Is it possible to return multiple column headers in the target cell ?