# How to Find the Most Frequent Text with Criteria Using Excel Formula?

When working with large datasets in **Microsoft Excel**, you often need to summarize and analyze text entries to identify the most common values and spot trends. To uncover actionable insights, it’s helpful to find the **most frequently occurring text that meets specific criteria**. By leveraging powerful Excel functions like COUNTIFS, MODE.SNGL, INDEX, MATCH, and COUNTA, you can quickly determine which text values appear most often in your data while also filtering the results based on one or more conditions.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore various techniques and provide step-by-step instructions to help you master the art of finding the most frequent text in Excel with criteria. We’ll start with the fundamentals of counting text frequencies and then progressively build up to more complex scenarios involving multiple criteria, handling duplicates, and automating your analysis.

## Counting Text Frequency with COUNTIFS to Find the Most Common Entry

At the heart of finding the most frequently occurring text in Excel is the **COUNTIFS function**. This versatile formula allows you to count the number of cells within a range that meet one or more criteria. To determine which text value appears most often in your data, follow these steps:

- Create a list of all unique text values found in your target column. You can achieve this by copying the entire column to another sheet and using the “Remove Duplicates” feature to eliminate any repeated entries.
- In a new column adjacent to your list of unique text values, employ the COUNTIFS function to tally how many times each text value appears in the original data column.
- Use the MAX function to find the highest count value among the tallied frequencies.
- Finally, utilize the INDEX and MATCH functions together to look up the text value associated with the maximum count identified in step 3.

Here’s an example of how the COUNTIFS function can be used to count the frequency of each unique text value in column A:

**=COUNTIFS($A:$A,B2)**

In this formula:

- $A:$A represents the entire range of the original data column
- B2 is a cell reference pointing to one of the unique text values in your list

After populating the frequency counts for each unique text value, you can retrieve the most frequently occurring text using the following formula:

**=INDEX(B:B,MATCH(MAX(C:C),C:C,0))**

Where:

- B:B is the range containing your list of unique text values
- C:C is the range with the corresponding COUNTIFS frequency counts

## Adding Criteria to Count Only Certain Text Instances

To gain deeper insights from your text frequency analysis, you can incorporate additional criteria into your COUNTIFS formulas. This allows you to filter the count results and focus on text occurrences that meet specific conditions.

For instance, let’s say you want to count the occurrences of text values in column A only if the corresponding value in column B is equal to “Yes”. You can achieve this by modifying the COUNTIFS formula as follows:

**=COUNTIFS($A:$A,D2,$B:$B,”Yes”)**

In this updated formula:

- D2 references a cell containing a text value from your unique list, just like in the previous example
- $B:$B,”Yes” is the additional criterion specifying that the corresponding value in column B must be “Yes” for the text instance to be counted.

You can further refine your analysis by including multiple criteria in the COUNTIFS function. Simply add more range/criterion pairs to the formula, like this:

**=COUNTIFS($A:$A,D2,$B:$B,”Yes”,$C:$C,”Region 1″)**

In this example, the formula will only count instances of the text value in D2 if the corresponding value in column B is “Yes” and the value in column C is “Region 1”.

## Handling Duplicates and Ties for Most Frequent Text

In some cases, you may encounter situations where two or more text values have the same maximum frequency count. When this happens, the formulas we’ve discussed so far will only return the first text value alphabetically.

To generate a comma-separated list that includes all the text values tied for the highest frequency count, follow these steps:

- Instead of using the MAX function, employ the MAXIFS function to retrieve the count associated with the text values that share the maximum frequency.
- Combine the INDEX and SMALL functions in an array formula to return all the matching text values.

Here’s the formula to obtain the maximum frequency count: =MAXIFS(C:C,$C:$C,MAX(C:C))

And here’s the array formula that will generate the comma-separated list of top text values: =TEXTJOIN(“, “,TRUE,INDEX($B:$B,SMALL(IF($C:$C=MAX($C:$C),ROW($C:$C)-ROW(INDEX($C:$C,1,1))+1),ROW(INDIRECT(“1:”&ROWS($C:$C))))))

Important: Since this is an array formula, you must enter it by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter instead of just Enter.

## Automating with COUNTIFS, INDEX and COUNTA

Constructing a formula from scratch to find the most frequent text with criteria every time you need it can be time-consuming and inefficient. To streamline your workflow, you can leverage the COUNTA function along with absolute and relative cell references to create a more automated and adaptable lookup formula.

Here’s how:

- Utilize the COUNTA function to determine the number of unique text values in your list.
- Modify the MATCH portion of the previous most frequent text formula to reference the COUNTA result.

Assuming your list of unique text values is in the range B2:B11 and the corresponding frequency counts are in C2:C11, the automated formula would look like this:

**=INDEX($B$2:$B$11,MATCH(MAX($C$2:$C$11),$C$2:$C$11,0))**

To make the formula even more flexible and accommodate future changes to the unique text list, you can make the row numbers relative using COUNTA:

**=INDEX($B$2:INDEX($B:$B,COUNTA($B:$B)),MATCH(MAX($C$2:INDEX($C:$C,COUNTA($B:$B))),$C$2:INDEX($C:$C,COUNTA($B:$B)),0))**

## Advanced Use Case: Most Frequent Text by Category

In more advanced scenarios, you may want to dive deeper into your data analysis and find the most frequently occurring text for different categories or segments. This requires introducing another layer of complexity to your formulas.

Let’s assume your dataset has three columns:

- Column A: Category
- Column B: Text entries
- Column C: Some numeric value

And your goal is to determine the most frequent text in column B for each distinct category in column A.

### Step 1: Get unique lists for categories and text

To begin, create separate lists containing the unique values from column A (categories) and column B (text entries). The “Remove Duplicates” feature in Excel can help you accomplish this quickly.

For the sake of this example, let’s assume the unique category list is in the range E2:E6, and the unique text list is in F2:F11.

### Step 2: Calculate frequency counts with COUNTIFS

The next step is to use COUNTIFS to generate a grid that tallies the number of occurrences of each unique text entry for each category. You can set up the grid like this:

F2 | F3 | F4 | … | |
---|---|---|---|---|

E2 | =COUNTIFS($A:$A,E2,$B:$B,F2) | =COUNTIFS($A:$A,E2,$B:$B,F3) | =COUNTIFS($A:$A,E2,$B:$B,F4) | … |

E3 | =COUNTIFS($A:$A,E3,$B:$B,F2) | =COUNTIFS($A:$A,E3,$B:$B,F3) | =COUNTIFS($A:$A,E3,$B:$B,F4) | … |

E4 | =COUNTIFS($A:$A,E4,$B:$B,F2) | =COUNTIFS($A:$A,E4,$B:$B,F3) | =COUNTIFS($A:$A,E4,$B:$B,F4) | … |

… | … | … | … | … |

### Step 3: Use INDEX and MATCH to get most frequent text per category

Once you have populated the frequency counts grid, you can employ the INDEX and MATCH functions to identify the most frequent text for each category:

**=INDEX($F$2:INDEX($F:$F,COUNTA($F:$F)),MATCH(MAX(G2:INDEX(G:G,COUNTA($F:$F))),G2:INDEX(G:G,COUNTA($F:$F)),0))**

In this formula:

- F2:INDEX(F:F,COUNTA(F:F)) represents the range containing your unique text list
- G2:INDEX(G:G,COUNTA(F:F)) is the range with the frequency counts for a single category

To obtain customized results for each category, copy this formula down the rows corresponding to each category in your grid.

## Most Frequent Text Meeting Numeric Criteria

Another common use case involves finding the most frequently occurring text where an associated numeric value satisfies a specific condition. For example, you might want to identify the most popular product where the total sales exceeded $1,000.

To tackle this scenario, you can incorporate a numeric criterion into the COUNTIFS and INDEX/MATCH formulas we discussed earlier. Let’s assume the numeric values are stored in column C. Here’s the adapted formula:

**=INDEX($B$2:INDEX($B:$B,COUNTA($B:$B)),MATCH(MAX($C$2:INDEX($C:$C,COUNTA($B:$B))),$C$2:INDEX($C:$C,COUNTA($B:$B)),0))**

In this formula:

- $C$2:INDEX($C:$C,COUNTA($B:$B)) represents the range with the COUNTIFS tally for each unique text value
- The additional criterion is $C:$C,”>1000″, which specifies that the corresponding numeric value in column C must be greater than 1,000 for the text instance to be counted.

## Summary

Determining the **most frequently occurring text in Excel based on specific criteria** involves combining several powerful functions such as COUNTIFS, INDEX, MATCH, MAX, and COUNTA.

The general approach can be summarized as follows:

- Generate a list of unique text values from your dataset
- Employ the COUNTIFS function to calculate the frequency of each unique text value, taking into account any necessary criteria
- Use the MAX function to identify the highest frequency count
- Retrieve the text value(s) associated with the maximum count using the INDEX and MATCH functions

This methodology can be further extended and adapted to handle more complex scenarios, such as finding the most frequent text within different categories or where associated numeric values meet certain conditions.

**The key Excel functions and formulas covered in this article include:**

- COUNTIFS
- INDEX
- MATCH
- MAX
- COUNTA
- SMALL
- TEXTJOIN

By nesting and combining these functions strategically with appropriate cell references, you can construct robust and dynamic formulas that extract valuable **insights about your most common text entries segmented by various criteria**.

## FAQs

### What is the main Excel function used to find the most frequently occurring text based on criteria?

The COUNTIFS function is the primary Excel function used to find the most frequently occurring text that meets specific criteria. It allows you to count the number of cells within a range that satisfy one or more conditions.

### How can I find the most frequent text if there are multiple values with the same maximum count?

To find all the text values tied for the highest frequency count, use the MAXIFS function to get the count of the top values, and then combine INDEX, SMALL, and TEXTJOIN in an array formula to return a comma-separated list of the most frequent text values.

### Can I automate the process of finding the most frequent text with criteria?

Yes, you can automate the process by using the COUNTA function along with absolute and relative cell references in your INDEX and MATCH formulas. This will make your formulas more flexible and adaptable to changes in your data.

### How can I find the most frequently occurring text for different categories in my data?

To find the most frequent text for different categories, create separate lists of unique categories and text values, use COUNTIFS to generate a frequency grid, and then use INDEX and MATCH formulas to retrieve the most frequent text for each category.

### Can I find the most frequent text based on numeric criteria?

Yes, you can find the most frequently occurring text based on numeric criteria by incorporating additional conditions into your COUNTIFS and INDEX/MATCH formulas. For example, you can find the most common product where sales exceeded a certain threshold.

Vaishvi Desai is the founder of Excelsamurai and a passionate Excel enthusiast with years of experience in data analysis and spreadsheet management. With a mission to help others harness the power of Excel, Vaishvi shares her expertise through concise, easy-to-follow tutorials on shortcuts, formulas, Pivot Tables, and VBA.