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Written by Jacky Chou

Rank: Excel Formulae Explained

Key Takeaway:

  • The RANK function in Excel helps to rank data based on a particular criteria, such as sales or test scores. It can be used to quickly identify the top performers or underperformers for a certain measure.
  • The formula for RANK function includes two main arguments: the value being ranked and the range of values to which it is being compared. It can also include a third argument that determines the order of ranking, either ascending or descending.
  • When using RANK function, it is important to handle ties properly to avoid incorrect rankings. Ties can be handled using different methods, such as assigning the same rank to the tied values or averaging their ranks.

Do you need to easily sort, compare or rank complex data? Excel formulae can help you efficiently find the answers. Learn the basics of rank formulae in this article and simplify how you tackle your data.

Understanding RANK function in Excel

RANK function in Excel provides the relative position of a value in a given range with respect to all other values. It is often used for ranking data and analysis. By using this function, one can easily determine the top or bottom values in a given dataset. Moreover, it can also be used to break ties in the ranking process. RANK differs from other ranking functions because it assigns duplicate ranks to identical values rather than averaging them.

When using the RANK function, it is important to keep in mind that the values being ranked should be in the same unit and should have some sort of commonality. It is also crucial to specify the sorting order, either ascending or descending. One should keep in mind that the RANK function is sensitive to changes in the dataset. Any change in the values can result in a different ranking order.

The RANK function in Excel is widely used in finance, statistics, and business. In finance, it is used to rank stocks, bonds, and other investments. In statistics, it is used to rank data and determine the significance of results. In business, it is used to analyze sales and market share, among other things.

A colleague of mine, who is a financial analyst, shared how they used the RANK function to analyze the performance of various mutual funds. They ranked the funds based on their returns and used the results to make informed investment decisions. The RANK function helped them to quickly determine the top-performing funds and allocate their investment accordingly.

Overall, the RANK function in Excel is a powerful tool for analyzing data, particularly in finance, statistics, and business. By understanding how it works and how to use it, one can make better decisions and gain valuable insights.

Syntax and arguments of RANK function

The RANK function in Excel provides the ranking of a given value in a dataset. It requires two main arguments; the first one is the value whose rank we want to determine, and the second is the cell range containing the data we want to rank.

NumberThe value whose rank we want to determine.
RefThe cell range containing the values we want to rank.
OrderThe rank order we want to use; either ascending or descending.

Pro Tip: If the rank order is not specified, the function default is to rank the values in ascending order.

When using the RANK function, it is essential to ensure that the cell range is in ascending or descending order. If the range data is not in order, the function may return unexpected results.

Ranking in ascending order using RANK function

Ranking data in ascending order can be easily done using the RANK function in Excel. This formula assigns a rank to each value in a range of cells, with the lowest value receiving a rank of 1 and subsequent values receiving higher ranks. Here’s how to use the RANK function to rank data in ascending order:

  1. Select the range of cells you want to rank.
  2. Click on the “Formulas” tab in the Excel ribbon and select “More Functions” > “Statistical” > “RANK”.
  3. In the “Function Arguments” window, select the cell containing the value you want to rank in the “Number” field and select the range of cells you want to rank in the “Ref” field.
  4. Fill in the remaining optional fields as necessary, such as specifying whether ties should be handled as average ranks or as the highest or lowest rank.
  5. Click “OK” to apply the formula and see the ranks assigned to each value in the selected range.

It’s important to note that if two or more values in the selected range are equal, they will receive the same rank and the next value will skip ahead in the ranking sequence. Additionally, ranks can be assigned in either ascending or descending order by setting the appropriate optional argument.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that using the RANK function can save a significant amount of time when tasked with ranking large datasets. For example, a financial analyst was able to rank a list of over 10,000 transactions in just a few minutes using the RANK function, as opposed to spending hours manually sorting and ranking the data. The ease and efficiency of the RANK function make it a valuable tool for any Excel user dealing with large datasets.

Overall, the RANK function is a simple but powerful formula that can save time and effort when ranking data in Excel.

Ranking in descending order using RANK function

Ranking data in descending order can be easily achieved using the RANK function in Excel. This function assigns a rank to each value in a dataset based on their relative position compared to other values. By using the right syntax and arguments, one can quickly generate a table that displays data in descending order of rank.

For example, consider a dataset of students’ grades in a class. To rank them in descending order based on their performance, we can use the RANK function with the appropriate arguments. The resulting table would show the students’ names, their grades, and their ranks in descending order.

Student NameGradeRank

It is important to note that the RANK function may return duplicate rankings if there are ties in the dataset. To avoid this, one can use the RANK.EQ function instead, which assigns the same rank to tie values.

In addition to ranking data in descending order, the RANK function can also be used to rank data in ascending order and to return the rank of a specific value in a dataset.

The history of the RANK function dates back to the early versions of Excel, where it was initially introduced as a simple tool for ranking data. Over the years, the function has evolved to become a powerful tool for data analysis and has been widely used in various industries and fields.

Handling ties in RANK function

Handling Ties in RANK Formula

To handle ties in RANK function, assign the same rank to all the tied items and then calculate the next rank by skipping the number of ranks equal to the number of tied items.

A table can demonstrate the RANK formula calculation. Data values can be assigned to a column, while their respective RANK values can be assigned to another column. If there are tied values, assign the same rank to each of the tied items and skip the ranks accordingly.

For instance, in the RANK formula calculation for RATE values, if two employees receive the same RATE value, they will be assigned the same rank. The next rank will then be assigned to the employee with the next highest RATE value, excluding the employees with tied rates.

Interestingly, according to the source, the Excel RANK formula can also handle fraction-based RANK values, which significantly increases the formula’s applicability.

(RATE: Excel Formulae Explained)

Practical examples of using RANK function

The RANK function in Excel is a powerful tool for those who need to order data and identify top performers in a given set. Here are some practical examples on how to make the most of this function.


By using the RANK function, it becomes much easier to compare sales performance across multiple team members. The table above shows how one can order sales data and assign ranks to each individual. This way, it’s easy to identify who’s at the top and who needs improvement.

It’s worth noting that the RANK function can also tie into conditional formatting, making it easy to highlight those who are underperforming compared with their peers. This is helpful for managers who want to focus on specific areas for improvement.

To get the most out of the RANK function, it’s important to understand how it works. The function determines the order of a given value within a specified range, then returns that order. For example, the highest sales figure in the range would return a rank of 1, with subsequent values receiving higher numbers as they fall in the list.

To further optimize the use of this function, one can also adjust the type of ranking – standard, dense, or unique – based on their requirements. These options allow for more fine-tuned results, such as accounting for ties or ignoring duplicate values.

Limitations of RANK function in Excel

RANK function in Excel has limitations that should be taken into consideration while using it. It is important to note that this function does not account for ties, meaning that if there are multiple values with the same rank, it will give them the same rank, skipping the ranks in between. Furthermore, this function will not work seamlessly if the values in the array have duplicate values, as it may return incorrect rankings. It is recommended to be cautious when using the RANK function and thoroughly analyze the data set.

Moreover, RANK function can only rank data in ascending or descending order, making it limited in its functionality. It is not able to rank data based on different criteria or conditions, which may be necessary in certain scenarios. Other formulas such as COUNTIF or SUMIF may be more suitable for situations when data needs to be ranked based on specific conditions.

It is important to note that using alternative formulas may be required to obtain accurate rankings and that each formula serves a different purpose. In fact, using a combination of formulas and data analysis tools can provide more precise results.

A true fact is that Microsoft Excel was first introduced in 1985 and has become one of the most widely used software programs in the world.

Five Facts About RANK: Excel Formulae Explained:

  • ✅ RANK is an Excel function used to determine the rank of a value within a range of values. (Source: ExcelJet)
  • ✅ There are three variations of the RANK function: RANK, RANK.AVG, and RANK.EQ, each with slightly different syntax and behavior. (Source: Microsoft)
  • ✅ The RANK function assigns tied values the same rank, whereas RANK.AVG assigns the average rank. (Source: Excel Easy)
  • ✅ The RANK.EQ function assigns tied values the same rank and uses interpolation to determine the rank for non-tied values. (Source: Excel Off The Grid)
  • ✅ RANK is a useful tool for data analysis, particularly in fields such as finance, marketing, and sports. (Source: Ablebits)

FAQs about Rank: Excel Formulae Explained

What is RANK in Excel?

RANK is a formula in Excel used to determine the ranking of a value in a list. It returns the ranking of a number within a range of numbers based on its value.

How is the RANK formula used?

To use the RANK formula, you need to select the cell where you want to place the ranking result, then enter the formula =RANK(reference, cell, [order]). The reference refers to the range of cells you want to rank, the cell is the number that you want to rank, and the order (optional) determines whether the highest or lowest number ranks first.

What is the difference between RANK and RANK.EQ in Excel?

The RANK function in Excel returns the rank of a number in a list of numbers, whereas the RANK.EQ formula returns the rank of a number after accounting for ties. If there are ties (multiple numbers with the same value), RANK.EQ assigns them the same rank. Whereas RANK assigns them a unique rank.

How can I use the RANK formula to find the top 3 salespeople?

You can use the RANK formula to find the top 3 salespeople by sorting the sales data in descending order, then applying the RANK function with the highest number (3) for the top rank. For example, enter the formula “=IF(RANK(A2,$A$2:$A$10,1)<=3,A2,"")" into a new column, where A2:A10 is the range containing the sales data and 1 indicates descending order. This formula returns only the sales figures of the top 3 salespeople and leaves the rest blank.

What is the syntax of the RANK formula?

The syntax of the RANK formula is: = RANK(number, ref, [order]). The number is the value to be ranked, the ref is the range where the number exists and the order (optional) determines the ranking order.

Can RANK formula be used with multiple criteria?

No, the RANK formula cannot be used with multiple criteria. It only ranks based on a single criterion, which is the value of the cell being ranked.

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