Retrieving the Column Header of the Next Non-Blank Cell in a Row in Excel 2010

To retrieve the column header of the next non blank cell in a row, we can use a combination of INDEX, MATCH, MIN, IF & COLUMN functions to get the output.
INDEX: Returns a value or reference of the cell at the intersection of a particular row and column, in a given range.

Syntax: =INDEX(array,row_num,column_num)
MATCH function searches for a specified item in a selected range of cells, and then returns the relative position of that item in the range.

Syntax =MATCH(lookup_value,lookup_array,match_type)
Min: Returns the smallest number from a range of cells or array. For example,if a list of numbers contains 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10, then the output will be 5.

Syntax =MIN(number1,number2,...)

There can be a maximum 255 arguments.Refer below shown screenshot:

The IF function checks if a condition you specify is TRUE or FALSE. If the condition returns TRUE then it returns preset value, and if the condition returns FALSE then it returns another preset value.

Syntax = IF(logical_test,value_if_true,value_if_false)

COLUMN: Returns the column number of a reference.

Syntax: =COLUMN(reference)
Let us take an example:

Row 1 contains list of Months from January to December. Row 2 lists amounts payable over a twelve month period.A blank cell in the row indicates that no payment is due that month.We want to create a new row that, for each month, will display the name of the month in which the next payment is due.


  • In cell A3 the formula would be
  • =INDEX(A1:$L1,MATCH(MIN(IF(A2:$L2<>"",COLUMN(A2:$L2))),COLUMN(A2:$L2)))
  • Press enter on your keyboard.
  • The function will return Jan, it means the payment is due for Jan month.


  • If we remove the item1 & item2 from row 2, then the function will return the Mar.


  • By copying the formula from cell A3 to range B3:L3, we can return the month for which payment is due.


Users are saying about us...

  1. Hi There,

    Really very very helpful blog. Kindly share more of such tricks so that we can use excel as a basic powerful tool for day to day work.

    Really appreciate your time and efforts!



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