Adding numbers in Google Sheets is one of the most basic calculations. Just like Excel, you can use the SUM function. But what about subtracting numbers? With Google Sheets, you have a few different ways to subtract values.

Use the MINUS Function

Unlike Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets has a function for subtraction. The function is MINUS and it works with both numbers and cell references. The syntax for the formula is MINUS(value1, value2) where both arguments are required.

To subtract numbers, such as 20 minus 15, you would enter the following formula and press Enter.

=MINUS(20,15)

Subtract numbers with the MINUS function

To subtract values within cells, like A2 minus A3, you would enter this formula and press Enter.

=MINUS(A2,A3)

Subtract cell values with the MINUS function

Use the Minus Sign

Along with the MINUS function, you can simply enter a minus sign for the numbers or cell references you want to subtract. The advantage to this method is that you don’t have to include the values in parentheses.

RELATED: How to Subtract Numbers in Microsoft Excel

To subtract numbers, such as 20 minus 15, you would enter the following formula and press Enter.

=20-15

Subtract numbers with the minus sign

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To subtract values within cells, like A2 minus A3, you would enter this formula and press Enter.

=A2-A3

Subtract cell values with the minus sign

Use the SUM Function

If you’re accustomed to using the SUM function and prefer to stick with it, you can use it to subtract numbers as well as add them. You simply use the function along with the minus sign described above.

To subtract the numbers 20 minus 15 using SUM, you would enter the following and press Enter.

=SUM(20-15)

Subtract numbers with the SUM function

To subtract the values in cells A2 and A3, you would enter this formula and press Enter.

=SUM(A2-A3)

Subtract cell values with the SUM function

Create Subtraction Equations

Not every calculation you need is as simple as A minus B. For instance, you might want to add a few numbers and then subtract others. Using the above functions along with operators like the minus and plus signs, you can create the equation you need. Let’s look at a few examples.

RELATED: How to Use the Equation Editor in Google Docs

You can use the MINUS function to subtract your values and then multiply the result. As an example, we’ll subtract the values in cells A2 and A3 and then multiply the result by 10. You would enter the following and hit Enter.

=MINUS(A2,A3)*10

Use the MINUS function with multiply

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Similarly, you can use the minus sign with cell references or numbers and then add a value. With this formula, we subtract 10 from 25 and add 15 to the result. Note that in this case you would use parentheses with the minus sign to perform that calculation first.

=(25-10)+15

Use the minus sign with addition

For one more example, we’ll use the SUM function to add the range of values in cells A2 through A5 and then subtract the value in cell A6.

=SUM(A2:A5)-A6

Use the SUM function with subtraction

Looking for additional help with formulas and equations? Take a look at how to divide numbers in Google Sheets or how to see basic calculations without creating formulas at all.

Profile Photo for Sandy Writtenhouse Sandy Writtenhouse
With her B.S. in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She learned how technology can enrich both professional and personal lives by using the right tools. And, she has shared those suggestions and how-tos on many websites over time. With thousands of articles under her belt, Sandy strives to help others use technology to their advantage.
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