# What's the difference between using "<>"&"" vs. "<>" in Google Sheets formulas?

For Google Sheets, I've seen people use both `=COUNTIF(range,"<>"&"")` as well as `=COUNTIF(range,"<>")` to count the number of non-empty cells in a range.

Is there any difference, benefit, or concern, using one approach over the other?

• please edit your question and provide a clear example of the formula you are using. Feb 28 at 15:48

# TL;DR

No difference. `&""` is redundant.

### A.  They are equivalent

The formulas `="<>"&""` and `="<>"` both return `<>`.

This is necessarily so because any text string, whether `"<>"` or `"webAppsRocks"`, is equivalent to the result of joining nothing else to it.

### B.  The reason to use `"<>"&""` instead of `"<>"`

1. I don't know a good reason to include `&""` in any of the following:
``````=COUNTIF(range,"<>&"")
=COUNTIF(range,"<>&""&"")
=COUNTIF(range,"<>"&""&""&""&""&""&""&""&""&""&"")
``````
2. Including `""` may reflect a lack of experience on the part of users possibly combined with a spillover effect from Microsoft Excel. Even though `&""` is redundant in Excel as well, users habitually include empty strings `""` in formulas to avoid returning zero values. For example:
```# Excel Formula Examples
=IF(TRUE,)      =IF(TRUE,"",)
=0              =[ empty_string ]

=IFERROR(1/0,)  =IFERROR(1/0,"")
=0              =[ empty_string ]```

### C.  Why use COUNTIF?

If your goal is to count the number of values in a range or array, COUNTA is designed specifically to do that.

`=COUNTA(range)   vs.  =COUNTIF(range,"<>")`