I'm analyzing some survey data in which the responses are in the form of a string containing inequalities, e.g.

a) < 5

b) 5-10

c) 11-15

d) > 15

I'm attempting to tabulate responses using the `Countifs`

function, and Excel does not appear to parse the value of the cell with the criteria argument as a string, and so returns 'False' for those bins; it does not evaluate a cell containing the string '< 5' as being equal to another cell containing '< 5', or the literal argument "< 5".

A comparison of the reference cells in other formulas, using `=`

or `EXACT()`

returns `TRUE`

.

I know the criteria argument of the conditional operators like `COUNTIF()`

, `SUMIF()`

, etc. use strings with inequalities when they're actually serving as operators, but I can't figure out how to suppress this and evaluate these cells as simple strings. Thanks so much!