Check if a number is prime with Excel

Prime number
A prime number (or a prime) is a natural number greater than 1 that has no positive divisors other than 1 and itself.


Divide a number by each number between 2 and square root of the number. If the number has no factors less than its square root, then n is prime.


Let's take a number 53 . 

1. Calculate square root of 53 i.e. 7.28
2. Round 7.28 up i.e. 8
3. Divide 53 by each number between 2 and 8
4. You'll see there is always a remainder when 53 is divided by each number 2 and 8
5. Result : Prime

Excel Formula 

Suppose a value is entered in cell B4 . Paste the below formula in cell C4.

Hit CTRL + SHIFT + ENTER to confirm this formula as an array formula. If done correctly, Excel will automatically place curly braces {...} around the formula.

Download the workbook

Related Post 

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About Author:

Deepanshu founded ListenData with a simple objective - Make analytics easy to understand and follow. He has over 8 years of experience in data science. During his tenure, he has worked with global clients in various domains like Banking, Insurance, Telecom and Human Resource.

18 Responses to "Check if a number is prime with Excel"
  1. Not working for 9. Problem with some indirect addressing.

    1. It is working fine for 9. Download the workbook (link provided in the article)

    2. Your formula references A2, but doesn't say what I should be putting there. It's great that your formula works for your specific workbook, but if it can't be easily copied into another, then what is the point of publishing it.

    3. Anonymous, it is very easily copied into any workbook, and it works exactly as advertised. The A2 reference makes no difference - a little investigation would have shown you that. And on that note, even if the formula wasn't directly translatable, would it really hurt to have to -gasp!- do a little of your own homework? There's a lot to learn from this post - that would be "the point" of publishing it.

    4. try 1681 it says its prim but 41^2 = 1681

  2. Doesn't seem to be 100% accurate, for example, For the input I entered 111,111,111. It said it was prime, although it can be divided by 9 and 3 at least. Any idea what may cause this kind of behavior? I don't really understand how the function works, so I can't diagnose the problem myself.

    1. It says 'Not Prime' for 111,111,111. You can save your workbook to any cloud drive and share link with me to debug.

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  4. Clever!! I never would have thought of using an array formula iterating along a virtual array to create a "for loop" inside an excel formula! I'm definitely going to have to remember that technique in the future!
    Though, as evidenced by the comments, that technique is extremely advanced (and thus confusing) for most people. Perhaps a link to a post with an explanation of the technique would help.

  5. Careful using this with numbers 81 and larger...

    1. It works fine for me. Make sure to press CTRL + SHIFT + ENTER after entering the formula but BEFORE clicking away. You will know that you entered it correctly if selecting the cell shows
      {=IF(B4=2,"Prime",IF(AND(MOD(B4,ROW(OFFSET($A$2,,,ROUNDUP(SQRT(B4),0)-1)))<>0),"Prime","Not Prime"))}
      note the {} brackets.
      Also note that entering the brackets manually does NOT work; you have to press CTRL + SHIFT + ENTER to get the brackets.

  6. Shows 6 as a prime, not correct

    1. The formula works, the most common mistake is not making it an array formula by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter. If you don't make it an array formula it will return false positives (like 9, 81, and 1681).

  7. Thank you that is genius, works fine for me, shows 6 and 9 as prime.

  8. 74 Prime
    75 Not Prime
    76 Not Prime
    77 Not Prime
    78 Not Prime
    79 Prime
    80 Not Prime
    81 Not Prime
    82 Prime
    83 Prime
    84 Not Prime
    85 Not Prime
    86 Prime
    87 Not Prime
    88 Not Prime
    89 Prime
    90 Not Prime
    91 Not Prime
    92 Not Prime
    93 Not Prime
    94 Prime


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