How to Subtract in Excel 2013 with a Formula

Learning how to subtract in Excel 2013 with a formula will provide you with the gateway into the world of Excel formulas. There are a number of different calculations that Excel is capable of performing, many of which can save you a lot of time if you regularly work with Excel spreadsheets.

This article will provide a brief overview of the Excel subtraction formula, plus some examples of that formula that you can apply to your own spreadsheets. Specifically, we will focus on learning how to subtract in Excel 2013 by specifying two cell locations that contain numerical values.

How to Subtract in Excel 2013 – Subtracting Two Cell Values

The steps in this tutorial assume that you have a cell containing a value that you want to subtract. You can either subtract this value from a value in another cell, or you can subtract it from a number that you select. This simple formula is very versatile, and we will show you a couple of other ways that you can use it at the end of the article.

Step 1: Open your spreadsheet in Excel 2013.

Step 2: Click inside the cell in which you want to display the result from your subtraction formula. I am going to display my result in cell D2 in the example below. Excel cells are referred to by their column and row location. So cell D2 is in column D and row 2.

click inside the cell where you want the result from your subtraction

Step 3: Type =B2-C2 into the cell, but replace B2 with the location of the first cell that you will be including in your formula, and replace C2 with the cell location that you are subtracting from your first cell. Press the Enter key on your keyboard after you type the formula, and the subtraction result will be displayed in the cell.

how to subtract in Excel

If you want to subtract a cell value from a number that is not in a cell, simply replace one of your cell locations with that number instead. For example, the formula =100-B2 would subtract my value in cell B2 from 100. The important thing to remember when you are learning how to subtract in Excel is that subtracting one value from another requires four basic components.

  1. The “=” symbol at the beginning of the formula. This equal sign lets Excel know that it needs to execute a formula.
  2. The first value after the “=”. This can be either a cell location, or a numerical value.
  3. The “-” operator that lets Excel know that you are about to subtract a value from the one that you just identified. This minus sign could be replaced with a + if you want to add values, a / if you want to divide, or a * if you want to multiply.
  4. The second value after the “-” operator. As with the first value, this can be either another cell location, or a numerical value.

While we have specifically learned how to subtract in Excel when at least one of the values is a cell location, you can also use the subtraction formula to subtract two numbers. For example, typing “=10-3” will display “7” in the cell, despite the fact that no cell locations were present.

Additional Information on Subtracting Cell Values in Microsoft Excel

  • Rather than typing the cell references into the subtraction formula, you can click the cells instead. Simply click inside the cell where you want to display the result of the formula, type = into the cell, click the first cell, type , then click the second cell. Note that the formula bar above the spreadsheet will update as you add each part to this subtract function.
  • If you have a mixture of positive and negative numbers in your cells and want to get a total for all of those values, you can use the SUM function instead. Excel treats numbers with a “-” in front of them as negative, so adding a positive and a negative number together will subtract the negative number from the positive number. For example, if cell A1 had a value of “10” and cell A2 had a value of “-5” then the formula =SUM(A1:A2) would give a total of “5”.
  • When we use cell references in subtraction formulas it is important to remember that Excel is basing its calculations on the values in those cells. If you change a number inside a cell that is being used as part of a formula, that formula will update to reflect the new cell value.

Summary – how to subtract in Excel

  1. Click inside the cell where you want to display the result of the subtraction.
  2. Type =B2-C2, but replace B2 and C2 with the cell locations that you want to subtract.
  3. Press Enter on your keyboard when you are done to display the result in the cell

How to Subtract Two Numbers in a Cell

In the sections above we showed you how to subtract in Excel when you had cells that contained values. But what if you want to subtract two numbers in a cell by themselves?

The process for achieving that result is very similar to what we learned in the section above.

If you type =20-11 into a cell, that cell would display “9”.

How to Subtract a Range of Cells in Excel

While we have focused on subtracting a value of one cell from another cell in the steps above, you can also subtract a lot of cells from a starting value as well. This is accomplished with the help of the SUM function that will add together values in a cell range.

In our example we are going to have a value of “20” in cell A1.

In cell A2 we have a value of 2, in cell A3 we have a value of 3, and in cell A4 we have a value of 4.

If we type the formula =A1-SUM(A2:A4) Excel will display the number 11, which is the result of 20-2-3-4.

This can be expanded to incorporate a large number of cells, allowing us to calculate values that include a lot of different pieces of data. For example, if you had 100 numbers in column A that you wanted to subtract from the value in cell A1, you could use the formula =A1-SUM(A2:A101).

You can learn more about creating formulas in Excel 2013 if you are ready to start unleashing the potential of your current data.

If you need to display the formula instead of the result of the formula, then this article will show you what changes you need to make for that to occur.

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