# Is there a coalesce-like function in Excel?

SqlExcelXlsCoalesce## Sql Problem Overview

I need to fill a cell with the first non-empty entry in a set of columns (from left to right) in the same row - similar to coalesce() in SQL.

In the following example sheet

```
---------------------------------------
| | A | B | C | D |
---------------------------------------
| 1 | | x | y | z |
---------------------------------------
| 2 | | | y | |
---------------------------------------
| 3 | | | | z |
---------------------------------------
```

I want to put a cell function in each cell of row A such that I will get:

```
---------------------------------------
| | A | B | C | D |
---------------------------------------
| 1 | x | x | y | z |
---------------------------------------
| 2 | y | | y | |
---------------------------------------
| 3 | z | | | z |
---------------------------------------
```

I know I could do this with a cascade of IF functions, but in my real sheet, I have 30 columns to select from, so I would be happy if there were a simpler way.

## Sql Solutions

## Solution 1 - Sql

```
=INDEX(B2:D2,MATCH(FALSE,ISBLANK(B2:D2),FALSE))
```

This is an Array Formula. After entering the formula, press `CTRL` + `Shift` + `Enter` to have Excel evaluate it as an Array Formula. This returns the first nonblank value of the given range of cells. For your example, the formula is entered in the column with the header "a"

```
A B C D
1 x x y z
2 y y
3 z z
```

## Solution 2 - Sql

I used:

```
=IF(ISBLANK(A1),B1,A1)
```

This tests the if the first field you want to use is blank then use the other. You can use a "nested if" when you have multiple fields.

## Solution 3 - Sql

Or if you want to compare individual cells, you can create a Coalesce function in VBA:

```
Public Function Coalesce(ParamArray Fields() As Variant) As Variant
Dim v As Variant
For Each v In Fields
If "" & v <> "" Then
Coalesce = v
Exit Function
End If
Next
Coalesce = ""
End Function
```

And then call it in Excel. In your example the formula in A1 would be:

```
=Coalesce(B1, C1, D1)
```

## Solution 4 - Sql

Taking the VBA approach a step further, I've re-written it to allow a combination of both (or either) individual cells and cell ranges:

```
Public Function Coalesce(ParamArray Cells() As Variant) As Variant
Dim Cell As Variant
Dim SubCell As Variant
For Each Cell In Cells
If VarType(Cell) > vbArray Then
For Each SubCell In Cell
If VarType(SubCell) <> vbEmpty Then
Coalesce = SubCell
Exit Function
End If
Next
Else
If VarType(Cell) <> vbEmpty Then
Coalesce = Cell
Exit Function
End If
End If
Next
Coalesce = ""
End Function
```

So now in Excel you could use any of the following formulas in A1:

```
=Coalesce(B1, C1, D1)
=Coalesce(B1, C1:D1)
=Coalesce(B1:C1, D1)
=Coalesce(B1:D1)
```

## Solution 5 - Sql

If you know there will not be any overlap across columns, or want the overlap, then this is a pretty fast way to solve for a coalesce. The below formula does not apply to your values and columns, but rather to my mock-up so you will need to adjust to make it relevant.

```
=LEFT(TRIM(CONCATENATE(Q38,R38,S38,T38,U38,V38,W38,X38,Y38)),1)
```

## Solution 6 - Sql

With the updated IFS function in excel you don't need to nest. You can try something like

- Create a blank cell to the right Then enter.

```
=IFS(ISBLANK(A1),B1,ISBLANK(A1),C1,ISBLANK(A1),D1)
```

Highlight column and paste as needed.

## Solution 7 - Sql

If you only want to coalesce to 0, which is a very common use case, you can simply use the `SUM()`

function around a single value. As a convenience that one treats all blanks as zero, and it's extra convenient since it's so short.

Not a generic solution like the other answers, but a helpful shortcut in many cases where that's exactly what you want.

## Solution 8 - Sql

Inside the array enter the variables that are not allowed.

```
Function Coalesce(ParamArray Fields() As Variant) As Variant
Dim v As Variant
For Each v In Fields
If IsError(Application.Match(v, Array("", " ", 0), False)) Then
Coalesce = v
Exit Function
End If
Next
Coalesce = ""
End Function
```

## Solution 9 - Sql

Depending on how many cells you want to check, you can chain together multiple ISBLANK checks.

For instance, when checking columns A, B, then C:

```
=IF(ISBLANK(A1),IF(ISBLANK(B1),C1,B1),A1)
```

For columns A, B, C, and D:

```
=IF(ISBLANK(A1),IF(ISBLANK(B1),IF(ISBLANK(C1),D1,C1),B1),A1)
```

... and so on.