How to Use Less Than or Equal to in Excel for Office 365

Using less than or equal to in Excel is a fundamental skill for anyone working with data. It involves using the “<=” operator within formulas to compare two values, which can be numbers, cell references, or a combination of both. After reading the brief explanation below, you’ll know how to apply this operator in your Excel worksheets effectively.

After you use the less than or equal to operator in Excel, the program will display results based on the criteria you set. For example, it can show you all instances where a number is less than or equal to a particular value, or it can calculate how many items meet this condition—handy for data analysis and decision-making.


Excel is not just a powerhouse for crunching numbers; it’s the Swiss Army knife in your digital toolbox. It slices and dices data with the precision of a master chef. The “less than or equal to” function in Excel is like the fine edge on a chef’s knife—seemingly simple but essential for perfect preparation. Why is it important, you ask? Imagine you’re a teacher sorting test scores, a business analyst setting sales targets, or a fitness enthusiast tracking calories. This operator is your go-to for filtering, organizing, and analyzing data that falls within a specific range.

For the uninitiated, “less than or equal to” might sound a tad technical, but fear not! It’s as easy as pie—well, easier, actually, because who hasn’t battled with a stubborn pie crust? Whether you’re a student, professional, or casual Excel user, mastering this function will up your data game significantly. Let’s get you started on this journey of data exploration where “<=” will open doors to efficiency and insights galore.

Related: How to Find the Mean in Microsoft Excel for Office 365

A Step by Step Tutorial

Understanding how to use the less than or equal to operator in Excel will allow you to perform a multitude of data analysis tasks. Let’s dive into the steps to become proficient in using it.

Step 1: Identify the cells you want to compare

Choose the two cells or values you wish to compare using the less than or equal to condition.

In Excel, comparison often starts with two things: the value you have and the value you’re measuring against. You might be checking if a student’s score is less than or equal to the passing grade, or if the amount spent is within the budget.

Step 2: Enter the less than or equal to operator

Type the “<=” operator into a cell, followed by the value or cell reference you want to compare.

This operator is like a digital gatekeeper in your worksheet. It won’t let anything higher than your set benchmark pass through when you pair it with a value.

Step 3: Complete the formula and press Enter

Finish your formula with parentheses if necessary, and hit Enter to execute the comparison.

Once you press Enter, Excel works its magic—comparing the values, and then, like a trusty friend, it tells you straight up: yes or no, true or false, 1 or 0. It’s binary and beautifully simple.


There are several benefits to using the less than or equal to operator in Excel.

Efficiency in Data Analysis

Using “<=” makes sorting and analyzing data much faster and more efficient.

Gone are the days of manual checks and eyeballing data. With this operator, you’re the captain of a speedy data-sorting ship, navigating through numbers with ease and precision.

Enhanced Accuracy

Automating comparisons reduces human error, ensuring greater accuracy in your results.

Your data is as accurate as a meticulously crafted Swiss watch. No room for error, just perfect, precise results every time.

Flexibility in Application

This operator can be used in a variety of functions and formulas, making it highly versatile.

Like a chameleon, the less than or equal to operator adapts to its environment. It’s a team player in logical functions, a solo star in filters, and a crucial cog in conditional formatting.


Even with its usefulness, the less than or equal to operator in Excel has limitations.

Misinterpretation of Results

If not used correctly, it can lead to misinterpretation of data, especially with complex formulas.

Like a mischievous imp, the operator can wreak havoc if misused, turning your data narrative into a confusing tale of numbers and what-ifs.

Over-reliance on Automation

Over-reliance on this function can hinder understanding of the underlying data.

Sometimes, relying too much on automation is like using a calculator for 2+2. You might miss out on the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of your data story.

Not Suitable for Non-Numeric Comparisons

The operator is limited to numeric and date comparisons and can’t be used for all data types.

It’s not a universal key. This operator won’t fit in the locks of textual analysis or certain types of data manipulations.

Additional Information

When you’re getting cozy with Excel, remember it’s more than just a grid of cells—it’s a canvas where data comes to life. And “<=” is one of the brushes you can use to paint your masterpiece. You might find yourself using this operator in functions like COUNTIF to tally how many sales were below target or in SUMIF to add up all expenditures that are within your budget.

Here’s a hot tip: combine “<=” with conditional formatting to automatically highlight scores that are lower than your threshold, giving you a visual treat that’s as informative as it is appealing. Don’t forget to pair it with “>” (greater than) sometimes, because comparing both ends of the spectrum can give you a balanced view, just like a seesaw that needs weight on both sides to be fun.


  1. Identify the cells you want to compare.
  2. Enter the less than or equal to operator.
  3. Complete the formula and press Enter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can “<=” be used to compare text strings?

No, “<=” is designed for numerical and date comparisons and does not work with text strings.

What happens if I compare different data types?

Excel will usually return an error if you try to use “<=” between incompatible data types.

Can this operator be combined with others in a single formula?

Absolutely, “<=” can be part of complex formulas involving multiple operators.

Does “<=” work across different worksheets?

Yes, you can compare data across different sheets by using proper cell references.

How can I use “<=” in conditional formatting?

You can set a condition with “<=” to change the formatting of cells based on their values.


Congratulations! You’re now equipped to use the less than or equal to operator in Excel, which is like having a Swiss Army knife for your data. Whether you’re tidying up test scores, evaluating budgets, or setting sales benchmarks, “<=” will help you slice through the data jungle with the precision of a skilled explorer. Remember, the power of Excel lies not just in performing tasks but in unlocking the stories behind the numbers. Keep exploring, keep analyzing, and remember—data waits for no one. Get out there and make those cells work for you!

Remember, as you step into the data arena armed with your new Excel prowess, there’s a whole world of numbers waiting to tell their tales. So, why wait? Dive in, and let the less than or equal to operator be your guide to uncovering the stories hidden in rows and columns.

Get Our Free Newsletter

How-to guides and tech deals

You may opt out at any time.
Read our Privacy Policy