How to Change Positive Numbers to Negative in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide

Changing positive numbers to negative in Excel is a straightforward task. You can use the ‘Paste Special’ feature to quickly convert a range of positive numbers to negative. This can be useful when you’re dealing with financial statements or data analysis where negative values represent expenses or losses.

Step by Step Tutorial to Change Positive Numbers to Negative in Excel

Before we dive into the steps, it’s important to understand that this process allows you to convert multiple positive numbers to negative ones in a jiffy. No need to go through each number individually!

Step 1: Type -1 in a blank cell

Locate an empty cell in your Excel worksheet and type -1 into it. This will be used to multiply your positive numbers and convert them to negative.

After typing -1, you’ll need to copy this cell because you’ll use it in the next step to modify your positive numbers.

Step 2: Copy the cell containing -1

Right-click on the cell with -1 and select ‘Copy’ or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+C. This copies the cell which you’ll use to change your positive numbers.

When you copy the cell, Excel stores the value temporarily, which allows you to paste it elsewhere in your worksheet.

Step 3: Select the range of positive numbers

Highlight the cells that contain the positive numbers you want to convert to negative. You can click and drag to select multiple cells or use the Shift key for a more precise selection.

Make sure only the cells with the positive numbers you want to change are selected. This ensures that no other data is altered.

Step 4: Right-click the selected range and choose ‘Paste Special’

After selecting your positive numbers, right-click on the highlighted cells, and in the context menu that appears, click on ‘Paste Special’. This will open a new dialog box.

The ‘Paste Special’ feature gives you various options for how you can paste the copied value into your selected range.

Step 5: Choose the ‘Multiply’ option and click ‘OK’

In the ‘Paste Special’ dialog box, under the operation section, click the ‘Multiply’ option. Then, click ‘OK’ to close the dialog box and apply the changes.

By choosing ‘Multiply’, Excel will multiply all the selected positive numbers by -1, turning them into negative numbers.

After completing these steps, all the positive numbers in the selected range will be converted to negative. You will see that numbers that were once, say, 5, 10, 15, etc., are now -5, -10, -15, and so forth.

Tips for Changing Positive Numbers to Negative in Excel

  • Ensure that the cell containing -1 is not within the range of cells you’re converting to avoid any errors.
  • Use the ‘Undo’ feature (Ctrl+Z) if you accidentally convert the wrong cells to negative numbers.
  • If you need to convert numbers back to positive, you can repeat the process using a cell that contains 1.
  • Remember that using ‘Paste Special’ with ‘Multiply’ will change the actual data in your cells, not just the appearance.
  • If you are working with formulas that output positive numbers, consider adjusting the formula to output negative numbers instead of using this method.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I reverse this process if I make a mistake?

If you accidentally convert the wrong cells to negative, simply press Ctrl+Z to undo the action. Alternatively, you can repeat the process using a cell that contains 1 to convert the numbers back to positive.

Can I use this method to convert negative numbers to positive?

Yes, you can use the exact same method but with a cell containing 1 instead of -1. This will change the negative numbers back to positive.

Will this method work if I have a mixture of positive and negative numbers in my selection?

Yes, it will work, but keep in mind that it will multiply all numbers by -1, so your negative numbers will become positive, and your positive numbers will become negative.

Does this process change the format of the cells?

No, the process only changes the value of the cells, not the format. So, if you have any specific formatting, it will remain unchanged.

Can I use a formula to change positive numbers to negative?

Yes, you can use the formula =-1*cell_reference where “cell_reference” is the cell you want to convert. Copy and paste this formula for multiple cells as needed.


  1. Type -1 in a blank cell
  2. Copy the cell containing -1
  3. Select the range of positive numbers
  4. Right-click the selected range and choose ‘Paste Special’
  5. Choose the ‘Multiply’ option and click ‘OK’


Excel is a powerful tool that can save you time and effort through its various features, and changing positive numbers to negative is no exception. Whether you’re adjusting financial statements or analyzing data sets, knowing how to quickly convert values can streamline your workflow. By following the simple steps outlined in this article, you can efficiently flip the sign of multiple numbers, turning potential into performance, profits into losses, and vice versa. And remember, if anything goes awry, the undo function is your best friend. With the tips and FAQs provided, you’ll be well-equipped to handle any Excel conundrums that come your way. So go ahead, give it a try, and watch those positives transform into negatives with just a few clicks!

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