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Does anyone know if there's a union operator in Excel 2010?

I have tried ; and ,, neither of them seems to work. For instance, =E2:E3;E4:E6, =E2:E3,E4:E6, {=E2:E3;E4:E6} and {=E2:E3,E4:E6} always return an error.

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where exactly do you need to use the operator? –  tumchaaditya Jul 11 '12 at 8:28
Can you clarify if you want to apply a function such as SUM, or whether you want to concatenate the cells in the range? –  datatoo Jul 11 '12 at 8:51

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Excel's 'union' operator has always been the comma* (e.g. A1:A9,F2:G4) while its intersect operator is a single space. It's not that it doesn't work, it's just that not all Excel functions can accept this reference method.

Here are some that do:

  • SUM()
  • COUNT()
  • COUNTA()
  • SMALL()
  • LARGE()
  • MIN()
  • MAX()

However, when you think about it, the , does not exactly do mathematical union, but rather set addition. For example, =COUNT(A1,A1,A1) returns 3. If it were truly a union operator, this formula would return 1.

*Some Euro-versions use the semicolon (;) instead, depending on the computer's regional settings.

(Further reading: Microsoft Office: Calculation operators and precedence)

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I came across this just now while trying to answer another question - the above is correct but I think, technically, a union needs to be enclosed in parentheses - if you are using SUM function then using =SUM(A1,B1,F1) is just using the functionality of SUM which allows you to add multiple references - you can see a union properly in SMALL function, e.g. SMALL((A1,B1,F1),2) - if you don't use the internal parentheses that doesn't work - You can also use this in RANK and FREQUENCY functions –  barry houdini Mar 23 at 14:27
Now that SUM, AVERAGE etc. functions allow up to 255 arguments I doubt this is as helpful as it might have been once.....but another use of the union is to allow more discontiguous cells to be used e.g. =SUM(A1,B1,F1) is using 3 references while =SUM((A1,B1,F1)) is only 1 –  barry houdini Mar 23 at 14:30

If you want to sum values, you can write this:


If you want to merge texts, you can write this (or use your mouse as @soandos says):


It looks like you want to write =CONCATENATE(A1:D1). But, as I know, it is not possible (gives error).

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Neat little trick you might want to add to your answer: get-digital-help.com/2011/02/09/… –  soandos Jul 11 '12 at 8:59
Thanks for the trick :) –  mmdemirbas Jul 11 '12 at 13:58

The question is not too clear, but for now, it seems like you have to merge texts. So for instance – as per your example if you have to union E2, E3, E4, E5, E6 you can write a formula like:


I tried it myself: You have to individually describe cells. ":" This is not working for me too in Concatenate. So you should try as explained above.

Else, mmdemirbas's answer perfectly explains the SUM formula.

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In short the answer is NO.

However, for some functions you can use the following workaround,

=COUNTA(B1:B3,A2:C2)-COUNTA(B1:B3 A2:C2)

Note that the ranges have one cell in common (ie intersecting). The "," is used by some functions to allow multiple range to be provided as parameter. This is not a union as this will include the intersection cell twice. It will be COUNTED TWICE. So, by subtracting the intersection you get the correct answer.

This technique should work with the following:


It won't work with: SMALL() LARGE()

The formula can be modified to work with:


It is never required with MAX and MIN!

It's a real pain that it works like this and that there is no UNION operator.

In VBA you can write a function that create a proper union:

see here for info http://www.cpearson.com/excel/BetterUnion.aspx


 Function ProperUnion(ParamArray Ranges() As Variant) As Range
' ProperUnion
' This provides Union functionality without duplicating
' cells when ranges overlap. Requires the Union2 function.
    Dim ResR As Range
    Dim N As Long
    Dim R As Range

    If Not Ranges(LBound(Ranges)) Is Nothing Then
        Set ResR = Ranges(LBound(Ranges))
    End If
    For N = LBound(Ranges) + 1 To UBound(Ranges)
        If Not Ranges(N) Is Nothing Then
            For Each R In Ranges(N).Cells
                If Application.Intersect(ResR, R) Is Nothing Then
                    Set ResR = Union2(ResR, R)
                End If
            Next R
        End If
    Next N
    Set ProperUnion = ResR
End Function
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