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Excel: Finding the second (or Nth) largest number

Sometimes you don’t want to know the highest number in a set of numbers, but the second (or third, or fourth) highest. Excel has a built-in function to do just that for you!

Suppose you have a highscore table in Excel:

Name Highscore
Pete 235126
Rose 76243
Joe 26262
Mary 21436
Burke 7732
Thomas 3

And you wish to report the top-3 players, you can easily obtain the highest scores by using

=LARGE(B2:B7,1) (Returns the highest score)
=LARGE(B2:B7,2) (Returns the second highest score)
=LARGE(B2:B7,3) (Returns the third highest score)

To know who is doing worst in the group, just use the function =SMALL(array;k). If all you need to know is what the maximum number is, use MAX() or the minimum equivalent MIN().

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