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

Using the MIN function in Excel is a time saver

Close up of a spreadsheet, computer, and calculator.

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When you need to know the lowest value in an Excel worksheet, use the MIN function. Use the MIN function to find, for example, the lowest price for a product, the lowest sales volume, the lowest temperature, or the lowest test scores.

Instructions in this article apply to Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010; Excel for Mac, Excel for Office 365, and Excel Online.

MIN Function Overview

The MIN function finds the smallest or minimum number in a list of values, but, depending on the data and the way that data is formatted, it also finds:

  • The fastest time
  • The shortest distance
  • The lowest speed
  • The earliest date
  • The lowest temperature
  • The least amount of money

It is often easy to pick out the largest value in a small sample of integers, the task becomes 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 these numbers are found in the image below and show how the MIN function is a versatile way to deal with numbers in a variety of formats.

Sample MIN formulas in Excel.

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:

=MIN(Number1,Number2,...,Number255)

Number1 is required and Number2,...,Number255 is optional. These arguments contain the numbers to be searched for the largest value, up to a maximum of 255. Arguments can be:

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 row 7, the number 10 in cell C7 is formatted as text. The green triangle in the top left corner of the cell indicates 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. 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 below. As shown, a range of cell references is 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 automatically update without having to edit the formula itself.

Sample MIN formulas in Excel.

Entering the MIN Function

To enter the formula, do one of the following:

  • Type the formula containing the function =MIN (A2:C2) into cell E2 and press the Enter key.
  • Enter the arguments using the MIN Function Arguments dialog box.
  • Use 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 follow along with this tutorial, open a blank Excel worksheet and copy the tutorial data as shown here:

A screenshot showing sample data used with the Excel MIN function

To use the MIN function shortcut to enter the MIN function:

  1. Select cell E2 to make it the active cell.

  2. On the ribbon, go to the Home tab.

  3. In the Editing group, select the Σ AutoSum dropdown arrow to open a list of functions.

  4. Select MIN to enter the MIN function into cell E2.

    A screenshot showing the the MIN function shortcut on the Excel Home tab
  5. On the worksheet, highlight cells A2 to C2 to enter this range as the function arguments.

    A screenshot showing data being selected as the function arguments for the Excel MIN function
  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.

    A screenshot showing the result of the MIN function in an Excel worksheet
  8. Select cell E2 to see the complete function =MIN (A2:C2) in the Formula Bar above the worksheet.