Subtract numbers

Important: The calculated results of formulas and some Excel worksheet functions may differ slightly between a Windows PC using x86 or x86-64 architecture and a Windows RT PC using ARM architecture. Learn more about the differences.

Let's say you want to find out how many inventory items are unprofitable (subtract profitable items from total inventory). Or, maybe you need to know how many employees are approaching retirement age (subtract the number of employees under 55 from total employees).

What do you want to do?

There are several ways to subtract numbers, including:
 

Subtract numbers in a cell

To do simple subtraction, use the - (minus sign) arithmetic operator.

For example, if you enter the formula =10-5 into a cell, the cell will display 5 as the result.

Subtract numbers in a range

Adding a negative number is identical to subtracting one number from another. Use the SUM function to add negative numbers in a range.
 

Note: There is no SUBTRACT function in Excel. Use the SUM function and convert any numbers that you want to subtract to their negative values. For example, SUM(100,-32,15,-6) returns 77.

Example

Follow these steps to subtract numbers in different ways:

  1. Select all of the rows in the table below, then press CTRL-C on your keyboard.
     

    Data

    15000

    9000

    -8000

    Formula

    =A2-A3

    Subtracts 9000 from 15000 (which equals 6000)

    -SUM(A2:A4)

    Adds all number in the list, including negative numbers (net result is 16000)

  2. In the worksheet, select cell A1, and then press CTRL+V.

  3. To switch between viewing the results and viewing the formulas, press CTRL+` (grave accent) on your keyboard.Or, click the Show Formulas button (on the Formulas tab).

Using the SUM function

The SUM function adds all the numbers that you specify as arguments. Each argument can be a range, a cell reference, an array, a constant, a formula, or the result from another function. For example, SUM(A1:A5) adds all the numbers in the range of cells A1 through A5. Another example is SUM(A1, A3, A5) which adds the numbers that are contained in cells A1, A3, and A5 (A1, A3, and A5 are arguments).

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