How to Use the TAKE Function

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Written By Chris

Just a simple "data guy". Changing the world one formula at a time.

I can’t say it enough. With functions like TAKE, Microsoft Excel can make your data analysis more efficient and streamlined. 

With TAKE, you can quickly return desired rows or columns from a larger dataset without manual sorting or filtering. Remember that to utilize this dynamic function, you’ll need a newer version of Excel from Microsoft 365 or Excel Online, as it’s unavailable in older editions.

In this guide, I’ll demonstrate how to use the TAKE function in Excel, including proper syntax and applying it to various tasks. You’ll soon discover how simple and powerful this tool is, especially when combined with other functions. 

So, let’s dive in with some practice data and start exploring the vast potential of the TAKE function in Excel.

Key Takeaways

  • The TAKE function in Excel enables efficient data analysis by quickly returning desired rows or columns
  • Combining TAKE with other functions, such as SORT and FILTER, creates even more powerful data manipulation
  • Working with multiple datasets becomes more manageable when using TAKE along with functions like VSTACK or CHOOSECOLS

Using the TAKE Function


TAKE Function Syntax

The TAKE function in Excel lets you quickly return desired rows or columns from a larger dataset without manually sorting or filtering your data. 

To use this dynamic function, start typing =TAKE(. You’ll find three arguments: array, rows, and columns. The only required entry here is the array argument, which specifies the data range.

Selecting Rows

The second argument, rows, allows you to choose how many rows you want to return. If you enter a positive number, it will return rows from the top. 

For example, entering 3 will return the top 3 rows of data. On the other hand, inputting a negative number will return rows starting from the bottom of the dataset.

take function rows argument 1

Selecting Columns

Specifying the columns argument is quite similar to rows. Entering a positive number will make the TAKE function pull from the data’s starting (left) part, while a negative number will draw from the right (end) part. 

This enables you to return only the necessary columns, making your data analysis more efficient and tailored to your requirements.

Combining Take with Other Functions

Sorting Data with SORT

You can integrate the SORT function with the TAKE function to sort your data alphabetically or by other criteria. This makes the data more organized and easier to work with.

sort take function 2

Sorting Data with SORTBY

You can also use the SORTBY function for sorting data. This allows you to select a specific range to sort by, such as revenue. You can apply the TAKE function to showcase the top five sales reps in the sample data, making your analysis even more efficient.

Calculating Averages

You need to enter the valid column argument in the TAKE function to calculate the average revenue within a specific range, such as for the top five sales reps. Adding -1 to the column argument tells Excel to only show the Total Revenue column at the far right of the table. 

Next, wrap the formula with the AVERAGE function for a correct calculation. 

Just remember to apply a separate SORTBY function for the data if using my sample data. Otherwise, you’ll return an average of all numeric cells in the list.

average function with take and sortby 3

Using FILTER Function

The FILTER function can be used alongside the TAKE function to analyze specified data. For instance, if you want to explore the data for all reps who sold more than 30 items and identify the strugglers, combining FILTER and TAKE functions will help you attain accurate results. 

Using SORTBY and FILTER functions in the correct order is essential for obtaining the desired outcomes.

Working with Multiple Datasets

When working with multiple datasets, the TAKE function in Excel can provide tremendous benefits and make your data analysis more efficient. Let’s discuss combining data using the VSTACK function and applying the CHOOSECOLS function to help you manage your data more effectively.

Combining Data with VSTACK

To combine two datasets, you can use the VSTACK function. This function lets you join the data from two lists or tables. 

Simply type the VSTACK formula and select the ranges you need. However, the combined data is unsorted. In this case, you can utilize the SORT function to arrange the data more efficiently. 

By inserting SORT and making the VSTACK your first argument, you can choose an index to sort by and specify the sorting order according to your preferences.

sort vstack with take function 4


You might want to remove unnecessary columns once you have combined and sorted your datasets. Sadly, you cannot directly add an argument to the TAKE function to remove a specific column. But you can use the CHOOSECOLS function to modify the output. 

First, add CHOOSECOLS to the front of your existing formula, making your current formula the first argument. Then, the remaining arguments are the index numbers for the columns you want to keep. 

This way, you can fine-tune the combined data and remove unwanted columns, making your final result more focused and relevant to your analysis.

choosecols with take and vstack 5

If you need any help with your TAKE function, drop a comment below. Or refer to my video above for a short walkthrough.

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