Google Sheets Cheat Sheet

MAX Google Sheets Function [With Quiz]

In Google Sheets the MAX function provides the maximum numerical value found in the values, cells, or ranges provided as arguments.

Other data types present in cell and range references (like text) are ignored.

MAX Syntax

=MAX(value1, [value2, ...])

Dates, times, and durations are included in the search for the maximum value by MAX because, in Google Sheets, dates and times are just numbers made to look like dates and times.

When negative and positive numbers are included, the 'maximum' is the largest positive number.

When only negative numbers are included, the 'maximum' is the smallest negative number.

The maximum is not the value furthest from zero:

=MAX(100,1,-2,-200)

Returns 100.

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MAX Function Example

ABC
1DataFormulaOutput
298=MAX(A2:A)98
315
4zero
56
6
734

The four values considered are:

  1. 98
  2. 15
  3. 6
  4. 34

The blank cell and zero text are ignored because they cannot be converted to numbers.

Therefore, the output is 98.

Using cell and range references that contain only blank cells and/or text in the arguments of the MAX function will output 0.

MAX Errors

The arguments to MAX can be provided as numbers, Boolean data, cell references, or range references:

=MAX(1,FALSE,A1,B1:B2)

Providing text as an argument directly (e.g. =MAX(1,FALSE,"Text",A1,B1:B2)) will result in a #VALUE! error:

Function MAX parameter 3 expects number values. But 'Text' is a text and cannot be coerced to a number.

When text is included in a cell or range reference it is ignored without error.


Boolean values can be considered numbers in certain contexts (TRUE = 1 and FALSE = 0).

There is an interesting anomaly in the MAX function based on this.

If you include Boolean data in a cell or range reference it is not considered.

If you include Boolean data as a value it is considered.

ABC
1DataFormulaOutput
2-98=MAX(A2:A)-6
3-15=MAX(A2:A,TRUE,FALSE)1
4TRUE
5-6
6FALSE
7-34

It's a bit of a strange feature that is unlikely to catch you out.

However, when things like this come up it's best not to mix value and cell/range references as arguments. Sticking to one type of argument helps to avoid potentially confusing outputs.


If the referenced data includes an error, MAX will output the first error it encounters:

ABC
1DataFormulaOutput
298=MAX(A2:A)#N/A
315
4#N/A
56
6#ERROR!
734

Another obvious error is if you don't include any arguments (as the first value1 is required):

=MAX()

Which results in an #N/A error:

Wrong number of arguments to MAX. Expected at least 1 arguments, but got 0 arguments.

MAX Function Quiz

Here's a quick summary of how to use the quiz spreadsheet:

  1. Select the required cell while the formula bar is empty
  2. Type your answer in the formula bar
  3. You can click on the spreadsheet to add cell/range references

Complete all questions to solidify your understanding of the MAX function.

MAX Function Exercises
Enter a formula for each question in the formula bar for the spreadsheet below.
1. Sales
In cell B8, enter a formula to find the highest number of sales. Remember to start your formula with '='.
2. Revenue
In cell B9, enter a formula to find the highest revenue number.
ABC
1SalespersonSalesRevenue
2Dwight10$3,240
3Jim9$2,916
4Phyllis7$2,268
5Stanley7$2,268
6Andy5$1,620
7
8Most sales:
9Highest rev:
10
Click Here When Complete

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Learn 12 tips and tactics that will make your sheets more beautiful and user-friendly from today.

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By entering your email address you agree to get email updates from me. I'll respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Kieran Dixon started using spreadsheets in 2010. He leveled-up his skills working for banks and running his own business. Now he makes Google Sheets and Apps Script more approachable for anyone looking to streamline their business and life.