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Locate first error

Author: Amanda Li Last Modified: 2022-01-14

To find the position of the first error in a column or row, the MATCH and ISERROR functions can do you a favor.

locate first error 1

How to match the first error in a column or row?

To find the position of the first error in the list as shown above, you can first use the ISERROR function to check each value in the list if they are errors or not. The function then generates a TRUE and FALSE array, in which a TRUE represents a value that is an error, and a FALSE otherwise. The MATCH function will then match the first TURE in the array to return the position of the first error in a numeric value.

Generic syntax


√ Note: This is an array formula that requires you to enter with Ctrl + Shift + Enter.

  • range: The one-column or one-row range from which to return the first error.
  • 0: The match_type 0 forces MATCH to perform an exact match.

To match the position of the first error, please copy or enter the formula below in the cell D5, and press Ctrl + Shift + Enter to get the result:


locate first error 2

Explanation of the formula


  • ISERROR(B5:B14): The ISERROR function checks each value in the range B5:B14 if they are errors or not, returning a TRUE if a value is an error, a FALSE otherwise. The results would be in an array like this: {FALSE;FALSE;FALSE;FALSE;FALSE;FALSE;FALSE;TRUE;FALSE;FALSE}.
  • MATCH(TRUE,ISERROR(B5:B14),0) = MATCH(TRUE,{FALSE;FALSE;FALSE;FALSE;FALSE;FALSE;FALSE;TRUE;FALSE;FALSE},0): The match_type 0 forces the MATCH function to perform an exact match. The function then returns the position of the first exact TRUE in the array. So, the function will return 8 since the first TRUE is at the 8th position.

Things to know

  • To retrieve the error value at the position provide by MATCH, you can add the INDEX function.
  • The ISERROR function in the formula above will match any errors. If you only want to match the first #N/A error, please change the ISERROR to ISNA:

Related functions

Excel MATCH function

The Excel MATCH function searches for a specific value in a range of cells, and returns the relative position of the value.

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To find the position of the first match that does not begin with a specific string, the MATCH, LEFT and IF functions can do you a favor.

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