Learn How to Subtract in Excel with the Subtract Formula

You have created a report that shows your company’s sales by month. Your boss asks you to add a row that shows the change from the prior month. You need to subtract the prior month’s sales from the current month’s sales.

Unfortunately, Excel doesn’t have a SUBTRACT formula. What do you do?

Set Up Your Report

In this example, columns C through H show the sales for each month. Row 9 displays the total of sales for all cities.

Are the sales increasing each month? If so, by how much?

Fred Pryor Seminars_Excel Formula for Subtraction 1

Add a Change Row

Row 11 shows the change from the prior month. Each formula in Row 11 is the result of subtraction using the “-” (hyphen) as a minus sign. To create the formula in cell D11:

  1. Click on cell D11.
  2. Click in the formula bar.
  3. Type “=” to tell Excel that you are beginning a formula.
  4. Type “D9-C9”.
  5. Press Enter.

You can copy this formula to cells D11-H11 to complete your change calculations. In this example, each month’s sales were greater than the previous month except June, when the sales dropped back to April levels.

Fred Pryor Seminars_Excel Formula for Subtraction 2

Next Steps

As you continue working in Excel, you’ll learn additional uses of subtraction, such as subtracting dates or calculating change percentages. Excel is flexible enough to allow just about any calculation you might need.