Basic math in Excel

Using functions in Excel 2013

Your browser does not support video. Install Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Flash Player, or Internet Explorer 9.

A function is a predefined formula that helps save you time. For example, use the SUM function to add lots of numbers or cells, and the PRODUCT function to multiply them.

Want more?

Use AutoSum to sum numbers

Sum numbers by creating a formula

AutoSum makes it easy to add adjacent cells in rows and columns.

You could type out =A3+A4+A5+A6, but that is tedious.

Instead, click the cell to the right of a row or below a column.

Then, on the HOME tab, click AutoSum, verify that the formula is what you want, and click AutoSum again.

AutoSum adds the row or column automatically. It is really handy.

When I double-click inside a cell where I am using AutoSum, I see it is a formula with the SUM function.

A function is a predefined formula. It helps save you time.

The syntax, or grammar, of the SUM function is SUM, open parenthesis, arguments--like numbers or cell references separated by commas--and finally, close parenthesis.

This formula is SUM(A3:A6).

The colon indicates a range of cells. This formula adds the cells from A3 through A6.

When adding a few cells, the SUM function saves you time.

With larger ranges of cells, it is essential.

If you try to use AutoSum here, it only gets the adjacent cell, not the entire column.

Why? Because B5 is empty.

If B5 wasn't empty, B3 through B6 would be an adjacent range of cells that AutoSum could recognize.

To add cells and ranges of cells that aren't adjacent: SUM, hold down the Ctrl key, click the desired cells and ranges of cells, and press Enter.

The formula uses the SUM function to add the cells containing numbers and ignores the empty cells.

Subtraction is similar to addition, but there isn't a subtraction function.

To subtract, you use a basic formula like: number or cell, minus, the next number or cell, and so on.

You can SUM numbers where some of them are negative.

The keyboard shortcut for AutoSum is Alt+=, and then I press Enter.

This is equivalent to 6 - 3 + 4 - 5.

You can also subtract the results of one SUM function from another.

SUM, select a range of cells, minus, SUM, select another range of cells, and press Enter.

As I mentioned about adding earlier, to multiply cells, you could type out =A3*A4*A5*A6, but that is tedious.

To speed things up, use the PRODUCT function to multiply numbers or cells.

PRODUCT is similar to the SUM function, but instead of adding numbers, it multiplies them.

It is another example of how functions help save you time.

The syntax of the PRODUCT function is PRODUCT, open parenthesis, arguments--like numbers or cell references separated by commas--and finally, close parenthesis.

To multiply cells and ranges of cells in one formula: PRODUCT, hold down the Ctrl key, select the desired cells and ranges of cells, and press Enter.

The formula uses the PRODUCT function to multiply cells containing numbers and ignores the empty cells.

Division is similar to multiplication, but there isn't a divide function.

A basic formula would be: number or cell, /, the next number or cell, and so on.

You can divide the results of one function, such as PRODUCT, by the results of another, such as SUM.

This formula divides the PRODUCT of the cells in B3 through B6, by the SUM of the cells in C3 through C6.

Up next, Operator order.

Expand your skills
Explore training
Get new features first
Join Office Insiders

Was this information helpful?

Thank you for your feedback!

Thank you for your feedback! It sounds like it might be helpful to connect you to one of our Office support agents.

×