Excel is a great tool for performing mathematical operations on data that you have entered into your cells. These operations typically occur with the help of a formula, such as this subtraction formula.
One of the operations that you can perform on your data is to calculate a percentage of one cell value compared to another. This is accomplished by dividing one number by another number to generate a percentage.
Learning how to use a percentage formula in Excel not only allows you to provide additional information about your data to people viewing the spreadsheet, it can also compare your data in a way that makes it more digestible. These formatting changes, combined with some usablity features like this one that freezes rows at the top of the page, can make Excel much easier to read.
Our tutorial below will show you how to use this formula, as well as how to change the format of the cells containing the percentage so that they display with a % symbol behind them.
How to Use a Percentage Formula in Excel 2013
- Open your Excel file.
- Click in the cell where you want the formula.
- Type =XX/YY into the cell, but use cell locations instead.
- Copy and paste the formula into other cells as needed.
- Right-click on formula cells, then choose Format Cells.
- Select Percentage, then click OK.
Our article continues below with more information and pictures of these steps.
How to Create a Percentage Formula in Excel 2013
The steps in this article were performed in Microsoft Excel 2013, but will work in other versions of Excel as well. Note that we are performing this task with a formula, so the percentage displayed in the chosen cell will change if you modify the cells that are being used to calculate that percentage.
Step 1: Open your spreadsheet in Excel 2013.
Step 2: Click inside the cell where you wish to display the calculated percentage.
Step 3: Type the percentage formula into the cell. The formula is =XX/YY but replace XX with the cell containing the first value for the percentage, then replace YY with the cell containing the second value for the percentage.
Step 4: Click and hold on the bottom-right corner of the cell, then drag it down to select the rest of the cells for which you wish to calculate a percentage.
This action applies the entered formula for those additional cells as well, but it updates automatically to calculate the percentages for the cells in each relative row.
Step 5: Select the cells displaying the percentage, then right-click on one of the selected cells and choose the Format Cells option.
Step 6: Select Percentage from the column on the left side of the window, choose the number of decimal places you wish to display, then click the OK button.
You should now see your displayed percentages in the cells.
As with any Excel formulas that use cell locations, the percentage formula is referencing the cell rather than the data contained within it. If you change a value in one of the cells that is used in the formula, then the percentage will update, too.
While this guide focuses primarily on how to use a percentage formula in Excel when you need to determine a percentage from cell data, you can also determine a percentage from two numbers, or from one number and a cell location. So the formula =4/10 or =4/A1 would also work.
Would you like to be able to view the formulas that you are using in your cells? Find out how to show formulas in Excel so that you can see the contents of the formula rather than its results.
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Matthew Burleigh has been writing tech tutorials since 2008. His writing has appeared on dozens of different websites and been read over 50 million times.
After receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science he spent several years working in IT management for small businesses. However, he now works full time writing content online and creating websites.
His main writing topics include iPhones, Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Android, and Photoshop, but he has also written about many other tech topics as well.
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