Understand the MODE Function in Google Sheets

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Find the Most Frequently Occurring Value With the MODE Function

Google Spreadsheets MODE Function
Google Spreadsheets MODE Function. © Ted French

Google Sheets is a web-based spreadsheet that is praised for its ease of use. Because it isn't tied to a single machine, it can be accessed from anywhere and on any type of device. If you are new to Google Sheets, you'll need to master several functions to get started. This article looks at the MODE function, which finds the most frequently occurring value in a set of numbers.

For example, for the number set:

 1,2,3,1,4 

the mode is the number 1 since it occurs twice in the list and every other number appears only once.

If two or more numbers occur in a list the same number of times, they are both considered to be the mode.

For the number set:

 1,2,3,1,2 

both the numbers 1 and 2 are considered to be the mode since they both occur twice in the list and the number 3 appears only once. In the second example, the number set is said to be bimodal.

To find the mode for a set of numbers when using Google Sheets, use the MODE function.

How to Use the MODE Function in Google Sheets

Open a new blank Google Sheets document and follow these steps to learn how to use the MODE function.

  1. Enter the following data into cells A1 to A5: the word "one," and the numerals 2, 3, 1 and 4 as shown in the graphic accompanying this article.
  2. Click on cell A6, which is the location where the results will be displayed.
  3. Type the equal sign  =  followed by the word "mode."
  4. As you type, an auto-suggest box appears with the names and syntax of functions that begin with the letter M.
  5. When the word "mode" appears in at the top of the box, press the Enter key on the keyboard to enter the function name and open a round bracket ( in cell A6.
  6. Highlight cells A1 to A5 to include them as the function's arguments.
  7. Type a closing round bracket  )  to enclose the function's arguments.
  8. Press the Enter key on the keyboard to complete the function.
  9. An #N/A error should appear in cell A6 since no number in the selected range of cells appears more than once.
  10. Click on cell A1 and type the number 1 to replace the word "one."
  11. Press the Enter key on the keyboard
  12. The results for the MODE function in cell A6 should change to 1. Because there are now two cells in the range containing the number 1, it is the mode for the selected number set.
  13. When you click on cell A6, the complete function =MODE (A1: A5) appears in the formula bar above the worksheet

The MODE Function's Syntax and Arguments

A function's syntax refers to the layout of the function and includes the function's name, brackets, comma separators and arguments.

The syntax for the MODE function is: =MODE (number_1, number_2, ...number_30)

  • number_1 - (required) the data to be included in calculating the mode
  • number_2 : number_30 - (optional) additional data values to be included in the mode calculations. The maximum number of entries allowed is 30.

The number arguments can contain:

Notes

  • Text entries included in a range of cell references are ignored by the function. If cells that contain text are later edited to hold numbers, the mode recalculates, if necessary, to accommodate the changes.
  • If no value appears more than once in the selected range of data, a #N/A  error appears in the cell where the function is located.