Add and subtract numbers

Adding and subtracting in Excel is easy; you just have to create a simple formula to do it. Just remember that all formulas in Excel begin with an equal sign (=), and you can use the formula bar to create them.

Formula bar with simple formula

Do any of the following:

Add two or more numbers in one cell

  1. Click any blank cell, and then type an equal sign (=) to start a formula.

  2. After the equal sign, type a few numbers separated by a plus sign (+).

    For example, 50+10+5+3.

  3. Press RETURN .

    If you use the example numbers, the result is 68.

    Note: If you see a date instead of the result that you expected, select the cell, and then on the Home tab, under Number, click General on the pop-up menu.

Add numbers using cell references

A cell reference combines the column letter and row number, such as A1 or F345. When you use cell references in a formula instead of the cell value, you can change the value without having to change the formula.

  1. Type a number, such as 5, in cell C1. Then type another number, such as 3, in D1.

  2. In cell E1, type an equal sign (=) to start the formula.

  3. After the equal sign, type C1+D1.

  4. Press RETURN .

    Addition with cell references

    If you use the example numbers, the result is 8.

    Notes: 

    • If you change the value of C1 or D1 and then press RETURN , the value of E1 will change, even though the formula did not.

    • If you see a date instead of the result that you expected, select the cell, and then on the Home tab, under Number, click General on the pop-up menu.

Get a quick total from a row or column

  1. Type a few numbers in a column, or in a row, and then select the range of cells that you just filled.

  2. On the status bar, look at the value next to Sum=. The total is 86.

    Sum result in status bar

    If you don't see the status bar, on the View menu, click Status Bar.

Subtract two or more numbers in a cell

  1. Click any blank cell, and then type an equal sign (=) to start a formula.

  2. After the equal sign, type a few numbers that are separated by a minus sign (-).

    For example, 50-10-5-3.

  3. Press RETURN .

    If you use the example numbers, the result is 32.

Subtract numbers using cell references

A cell reference combines the column letter and row number, such as A1 or F345. When you use cell references in a formula instead of the cell value, you can change the value without having to change the formula.

  1. Type a number in cells C1 and D1.

    For example, a 5 and a 3.

  2. In cell E1, type an equal sign (=) to start the formula.

  3. After the equal sign, type C1-D1.

    Subtraction with cell references

  4. Press RETURN .

    If you used the example numbers, the result is -2.

    Notes: 

    • If you change the value of C1 or D1 and then press RETURN , the value of E1 will change, even though the formula did not.

    • If you see a date instead of the result that you expected, select the cell, and then on the Home tab, under Number, click General on the pop-up menu.

See also

Calculation operators and order of operations

Subtract dates

Subtract times

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