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I would like to select the largest number in a column of an attribute table by "Select by attributes" in QGIS to select the polygon with the largest area. How would be the expression for that? I do not want to sort the column and select the polygon per hand, because I want to use it in the modeler.


1 Answer 1


You would be better off using "Select by expression" instead of "Select by attribute". Your expression should be something like:

"AREA" = maximum("AREA")

Replace "AREA" in the expression with the name of the column.

Alternatives are:

$area = maximum($area)


area($geometry) = maximum(area($geometry))

For more details about the difference between $area and area($geometry), please refer to this thread: Calculating polygon areas in shapefile using QGIS.

For example, the following screenshot shows how to select the polygon with the maximum value of the "POP_EST" field using "Select by expression" from the Processing Toolbox (Ctrl+Alt+T).

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  • Unfortunatly using this expression throws the error: "syntax error, unexpected '(', expecting $end". I tried replacing maximum with max, but then the whole area is selected.
    – Moo
    Feb 27, 2017 at 11:52
  • Can you share the screenshot of the window where you are using the expression and the error is occurring?
    – nash
    Feb 27, 2017 at 14:54
  • I added the screenhot above. A Layer with the polygons; B Attribute Table; C Select by Expression Window; D Expression; E Processing Window; F Error Message;
    – Moo
    Feb 27, 2017 at 16:10
  • Try using the expression without the quotations ". Something like AREA = maximum(AREA)
    – nash
    Feb 27, 2017 at 16:36
  • Now the error message changed in " Error executing algorithm Select by expression syntax error, unexpected EQ, expecting '(' "
    – Moo
    Feb 27, 2017 at 21:07

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