The SEQUENCE function is a useful function in Google Sheets. It’s a powerful way to generate numbered lists.
Previously, you had to resort to obscure array formulas like
to get lists of numbers. Things got ugly fast if you wanted to customize these lists.
Thankfully today, we have the SEQUENCE function.
As arguments, you specify: 1) the number of rows, 2) the number of columns, 3) a start value, and 4) a step size.
Arguments 2, 3 and 4 are optional. However, if you want to set them you need to include the previous ones (e.g. if you want to set a step size in argument 4, then you need to set 1, 2 and 3 as well).
Keep this order in mind as you look through the examples below and you’ll soon understand how the function works.
1. Ascending list of numbers
2. Horizontal list of numbers
Set the row count to 1 and the column count to however many numbers you want e.g. 5:
3. Two-dimensional array of numbers
Set both row and number values:
4. Start from a specific value
Set the third argument to the value you want to start from e.g. 100:
5. Use a custom step
Set the fourth argument to the size of the step you want to use, e.g. 10:
6. Descending numbers
Set the fourth argument to -1 to count down:
7. Negative numbers
Set the start value to a negative number and/or count down with negative step:
Dates are stored as numbers in spreadsheets, so you can use them inside the SEQUENCE function. You need to format the column as dates:
9. Decimal numbers
Unfortunately you can’t set decimal counts directly inside the SEQUENCE function, so you have to combine with an Array Formula e.g.
=ArrayFormula( SEQUENCE(5,1,10,1) / 10 )
10. Constant numbers
You’re free to set the step value to 0 if you want an array of constant numbers:
11. Monthly sequences
Start with this formula in cell A1, which gives the numbers 1 to 12 in a column:
In the adjacent column, use this DATE function to create the first day of each month (formula needs to be copied down all 12 rows):
This can be turned into an Array Formula in the adjacent column, so that a single formula, in cell C1, outputs all 12 dates:
Finally, the original SEQUENCE formula can be nested in place of the range reference, using this formula in cell D1:
This single formula gives the output:
It’s an elegant way to create a monthly list. It’s not dependent on any other input cells either (columns A, B, C are working columns in this example).
With this formula, you can easily change all the dates, e.g. to 2022.
Building in steps like this a great example of the Onion Method, which I advocate for complex formulas.
12. Text and Emoji sequences
You can use a clever trick to set the SEQUENCE output to a blank string using the TEXT function. Then you can append on a text value or an emoji or whatever string you want to create a text list.
For example, this repeats the name “Ben Collins” one hundred times in a column:
And, by using the CHAR function, you can also make emoji lists. For example, here’s a 10 by 10 grid of tacos:
Have you got any examples of using the SEQUENCE function?