Ignore Blank Cells In IF Functions – Google Sheets


In a previous post I explored how to ignore blank cells when using the QUERY function in Google Sheets, which had its own distinct way of removing blank cells from the data capture.

But how do you ignore blank cells in your spreadsheet when you’re not in a QUERY function? What if you’re in one of the many different IF functions such as IF, IFS, SUMIF, SUMIFS, COUNTIF, COUNTIFS, AVERAGEIF, AVERAGEIFS, MAXIFS, MINIFS (etc). How do you write a condition that checks if a cell is blank in those functions?

Ignore Blank Cells With Ranges

To ignore blank cells with functions operating on a criteria_range and a corresponding criterion is to write the condition "<>" in the criterion.

For example, in the AVERAGEIF function, which uses a criteria_range as its first parameter and a corresponding criterion as its second parameter to exclude calculating the average of a range if a criteria range cell is blank, then use the condition "<>" in the criterion as follows:

ABC
16Confirmed
29
310Pending
45Confirmed=AVERAGEIF(B1:B4,"<>",A1:A4)
Get the average of values in range A1:A4 if range B1:B4 does not have blank value. The formula above will ignore using A2 in its calculations and return 7.

If we wanted to reverse the condition, such that cells which do include blank cells are used in our calculations, then we would remove the <> characters in our criterion parameter.

Using the same formula above, if we wanted the average of values where the criterion is based on blank cells, then we would write:

ABC
1TRUE
=ISBLANK(A1:B1)
2TRUEFALSE
=ISBLANK(A2:B2)
Check if a range of cells is empty

Using the value "<>" to ignore blank cells on a range is handy, but what if we wanted to use the same formula over an array of cells where we are checking the condition on one cell instead of a range of cells.

Ignoring Blank Cells – IF Formula

There are several ways to ignore blank cells when using the IF formula. Here is a short list:

IF Function
First Parameter
Example Usage
A1<>""=IF(A1<>"", TRUE, FALSE)
LEN(A1)=IF(LEN(A1), TRUE, FALSE)
ISBLANK(A1)=IF(ISBLANK(A1), TRUE, FALSE)
NOT(ISBLANK(A1))=IF(NOT(ISBLANK(A1)), TRUE, FALSE)
How to check if a cell is or is not blank when using the standard IF function

Warning! Don’t Do This…

Do not use the condition =IF(A1, TRUE, FALSE) to test if a cell is blank, as there are false-like values that could be contained in the cell being referenced which would return FALSE.

In the table below we test how each formula goes with checking if the cell is not blank. Column A contains the false-like values, Column B contains the formula and Column C the result of the formula in Column B:

ABC
1TRUE
=ISBLANK(A1:B1)
2TRUEFALSE
=ISBLANK(A2:B2)
Check if a range of cells is empty

As you can see from the above snapshot from the spreadsheet table, using the simple IF(cell, TRUE, FALSE) formula does provide some incorrect and problematic results. Therefore, because of this don’t use the simple formula when checking if a cell has blank values.

Summary

When checking for blank cells in your IF formulas use any of the following conditions in your criterion parameter:

  • cell<>""
  • LEN(cell)
  • ISBLANK(cell)

If you’re criterion is based on a range and you are using one of the multiple formulas containing IF, such as SUMIF, SUMIFS, AVERAGEIF, AVERAGEIFS, COUNTIF, COUNTIFS, MAXIFS, MINIFS (etc) then to ignore cells that are blank use the criterion "<>".

If you’re using the QUERY function in Google Sheets we have a similar article on how to ignore blank cells too.

Ryan

Author of scripteverything.com, Ryan has been dabbling in code since the late '90s when he cut his teeth by exploring VBA in Excel when trying to do something more. Having his eyes opened with the potential of automating repetitive tasks, he expanded to Python and then moved over to scripting languages such as HTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP. When he is not behind a screen, Ryan enjoys a good bush walk with the family during the cooler months, and going with them to the beach during the warmer months.

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