How To Subtract On Excel

Subtraction in Excel is a fundamental operation that is often used in various data analysis and accounting tasks. It allows you to easily calculate the difference between two numbers, whether they are constants or cell references. Personally, I find this feature incredibly useful, especially when dealing with financial reports or organizing numerical data. In this article, I will guide you through the steps of subtracting in Excel and share some practical tips along the way.

Subtraction Formula

To subtract numbers in Excel, you can use a basic formula. The syntax is straightforward: =A1 - B1, where A1 and B1 are the cell references of the numbers you want to subtract. You can also use constants directly in the formula, such as =10 - 5, to subtract the value 5 from 10.

Using Functions for Subtraction

Excel offers a dedicated function for subtraction called SUBTRACT, which allows you to subtract multiple numbers at once. For example, =SUBTRACT(20, 5, 3) would subtract 5 from 20 and then subtract 3 from the result. This can be handy when dealing with more complex calculations involving several values.

Subtracting Percentages

When working with percentages, subtracting them in Excel follows a specific approach. Let’s say you have a total amount in one cell and a percentage that you want to subtract in another cell. You can use the formula =A1 - (A1 * 0.15) to subtract 15% from the value in cell A1. This can be adapted to any desired percentage.

Using AutoSum for Subtraction

AutoSum, a feature well-known for addition and other operations, can also be employed for subtraction. Simply select the cell where you want the result to appear, click on AutoSum, and then modify the formula to perform subtraction. This can save time and reduce the likelihood of errors in your calculations.

Dealing with Negative Results

It’s important to note that when you subtract one number from another in Excel, the result can be negative. Excel handles negative numbers by displaying them with a minus sign (-) in front. If your dataset may produce negative results, consider formatting the cells to ensure the numbers are displayed as you intend.


Subtraction in Excel is a powerful tool that empowers users to perform precise calculations and analyze data effectively. By utilizing formulas, functions, and features like AutoSum, you can streamline your workflows and make accurate subtractions in your spreadsheets. Whether it’s for financial analysis, budgeting, or any other numerical task, mastering the art of subtraction in Excel is a valuable skill.