Use Excel's MIN Function Shortcut to Find the Smallest Values

Excel spreadsheet showing MIN values.

The main use for the Excel MIN function is to find the smallest value in a set, but it can be used to find other values as well. Conveniently, there's also a shortcut to executing the MIN function that you can learn about below.

Applies to Microsoft Excel 2013 and 2016.

Find the Smallest Number, Fastest Time, Shortest Distance, or the Earliest Date

Closeup of Excel spreadsheet showing data for MIN function.

The MIN function always finds the smallest or minimum number in a list of values, but, depending upon the data and the way that data is formatted, it can also be used to find:

  • the fastest time;
  • the shortest distance;
  • the lowest speed;
  • the earliest date;
  • the lowest temperature;
  • the least amount of money.

And while it is often easy to pick out the largest value in a small sample of integers, the task becomes much more difficult for large amounts of data or if that data happens to be:

  • negative numbers;
  • times measured in hundredths of a second;
  • currency exchange rates calculated to the ten thousandth of a cent;
  • numbers formatted as fractions.

Examples of such numbers are shown in the image above, and while the MIN function itself doesn't change, its versatility in dealing with numbers in a variety of formats is apparent, and is one reason why the function is so useful.

MIN Function Syntax and Arguments

A function's syntax refers to the layout of the function and includes the function's name, brackets, comma separators, and arguments.

The syntax for the MIN function is:


  • Number1 is required.
  • Number2 : Number255 are optional.

The arguments contain the numbers to be searched for the largest value, up to a maximum of 255.

Arguments can be:, 

Note: If the arguments do not contain numbers, the function will return a value of zero. If an array, a named range, or a cell reference used in an argument contains empty cells, Boolean values, or text data, those cells are ignored by the function as shown in the example in row 7 in the image above.

In that row, the number 10 in cell C7 is formatted as text (note the green triangle in the top left corner of the cell indicating that the number is stored as text).

As a result, it, along with the Boolean value (TRUE) in cell A7 and the empty cell B7, are ignored by the function.

As a result, the function in cell E7 returns zero for an answer, since the range A7 to C7 contains no numbers.

MIN Function Example

The information below covers the steps used to enter the MIN function into cell E2 in the image above. As shown, a range of cell references will be included as the number argument for the function.

One advantage of using cell references or a named range is that if the data in the range changes, the results of the function will automatically update without having to edit the formula itself.

Entering the MIN Function

Options for entering the formula include:

  • typing the formula containing the function =MIN(A2:C2) directly into cell E2 and pressing the Enter key on the keyboard;
  • entering the arguments using the MIN function's dialog box;
  • Using the MIN function shortcut located on the Home tab of the ribbon.

MIN Function Shortcut

This shortcut to using Excel's MIN function is one of several popular Excel functions that have shortcuts grouped together under the AutoSum icon on the Home tab of the ribbon.

To use this shortcut to enter the MIN function:

  1. Click on cell E2 to make it the active cell.
  2. Click on the Home tab of the ribbon if necessary.
  3. At the far right end of the ribbon, click on the down arrow beside the Σ AutoSum button to open the drop down list of functions.
  4. Click on MIN in the list to enter the MIN function into cell E2.
  5. Highlight cells A2 to C2 in the worksheet to enter this range as the function's argument.
  6. Press the Enter key on the keyboard to complete the function.
  7. The answer -6,587,449 appears in cell E2, since it is the smallest negative number in that row. Negative numbers get smaller the further they are from zero.
  8. If you click on cell E2 the complete function =MIN (A2:C2) appears in the formula bar above the worksheet.