Whether you’re looking to subtract a single value from a number, or you want to perform multiple complex subtractions, Microsoft Excel makes it easy to do that. We’ll show you how.
Unlike other arithmetic operations, there’s no function for subtraction in Microsoft Excel. You have to rely on the standard minus (-) sign to perform subtractions.
However, you can use the minus sign to perform even complex subtractions. You can even subtract times in Excel, if you want.
For the example, we’ll perform a simple subtraction in which we’ll deduct a number from another number. You can perform this calculation using the values directly in the formula or using cell reference. We’ll take a look at both below.
To perform the subtraction by directly using values in the formula, we’ll open a spreadsheet and click the cell in which we want to display the answer.
In the clicked cell, we’ll type the following formula. This formula subtracts 25 from 75. Feel free to change these numbers to your own.
Press Enter and Excel will instantly display the answer in the cell.
For most calculations in Excel, however, you’ll end up using cell references rather than actual numbers. Instead of directly typing numbers in the formula, you can ask the formula to look at a particular cell for a number.
We’ll use the following spreadsheet for this calculation. We’ll subtract the C column’s values from the B column, then display the answer in the D column.
To start, we’ll click the D2 cell in the spreadsheet where we want to display the answer.
In the D2 cell, we’ll type the following formula and press Enter. As you can see, the formula deducts C2’s value from B2.
And instantly, you will see the subtraction answer in the D2 cell.
If you update the values of B2 or C2, the value of D2 will automatically update as well, saving you the work of running the calculation again.
To automatically perform this calculation for the remaining values in the spreadsheet, click the bottom-right corner of the D2 cell and drag it downwards. This fills the selected cells with your formula.
Excel will perform the calculation for each row and display the answer in the respective D column cell.
And you’re all set.
You may want to check out how to add or subtract dates in Excel. It’s equally easy to do that.
To subtract multiple values from a single number, you have a couple of options.
You can use the standard minus (-) sign for multiple subtractions, too.
Let’s use the following spreadsheet to perform multiple subtractions. In this spreadsheet, we’ll subtract the values of the C and D columns from the B2 column. Then we’ll display the answer in the E column.
To do that, we’ll click the E2 cell where we want to display the answer.
In the E2 cell, we’ll enter the following formula. As you can notice, the formula contains multiple subtractions.
Press Enter and you will get the answer in the E2 cell.
To perform this calculation for the remaining values, click the bottom-right corner of the E2 cell and drag it downwards.
You will see the subtraction answer for each row in the E column.
Another way to subtract multiple values from a single number is to add all the values you want to subtract and then subtract the sum of those values from your number. We’ll use the SUM function to perform the addition.
For this example, we’ll again use the same spreadsheet that looks like this:
In the spreadsheet, we’ll click the E2 cell where we want to get the answer. In this cell, we’ll type the following formula and press Enter. As you can see, the formula first adds the values of C2 and D2, and then subtracts the sum of these values from B2.
To use this formula in other cells, click the bottom-right corner of the E2 cell and drag downwards. You’ll then see the answer for each calculation in the E column.
And that’s how you subtract both simple and complex numbers in Microsoft Excel. Very easy!
You can perform the standard math operations even quicker by using Excel’s paste special feature. Check it out if you often need to do these calculations.
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