Using Excel to Calculate Percentages: A Step-by-Step Guide

Calculating percentages in Excel is a breeze once you get the hang of it. All you need to do is input a simple formula, and Excel does the math for you. Whether you’re trying to figure out a discount, a tip, or how much of your budget you’ve spent, Excel can help you quickly find the answers you’re looking for.

Step by Step Tutorial: Using Excel to Calculate Percentages

Before diving into the steps, it’s important to understand that calculating percentages in Excel is all about formulas. You’ll be using a basic formula that divides the part by the whole and then multiplies by 100 to get a percentage. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Enter your data

First, you need to enter the numbers you’re working with into the Excel spreadsheet.

This step is straightforward – just click on a cell and start typing in your numbers. Make sure to put each number in a separate cell if they’re part of different calculations.

Step 2: Insert the percentage formula

Next, you will type the formula into the cell where you want the percentage to appear.

The formula you’ll use is =part/whole*100. Replace ‘part’ with the cell number that contains the part of the whole you’re calculating, and ‘whole’ with the cell number that contains the whole.

Step 3: Press Enter

After typing in your formula, hit the Enter key on your keyboard.

Once you press Enter, Excel will compute the percentage based on the numbers you’ve entered. If you’ve done everything correctly, the cell will now show the percentage.

Step 4: Format as a percentage

Finally, you can format the cell to display the result as a percentage.

Right-click on the cell, select ‘Format Cells,’ then choose ‘Percentage’ under the ‘Number’ tab. This will ensure your result is displayed as a percentage, complete with the % sign.

After completing these steps, you’ll have a cell that displays the part as a percentage of the whole. This can be incredibly useful for all sorts of calculations, from financial to scientific.

Tips: Excel Percentage Calculations

  • Always check to make sure your formula is correct before pressing Enter.
  • If your percentages are showing up as decimals, remember to format the cell as a percentage.
  • Use absolute cell references (e.g., $A$1) if you want to copy the formula across multiple cells.
  • You can also calculate a percentage increase or decrease by modifying the formula.
  • Remember that Excel rounds numbers, so if you need exact percentages, adjust the number of decimal places.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I decrease a number by a percentage in Excel?

To decrease a number by a percentage, multiply the number by (1 – the percentage in decimal form).

Can I use Excel to calculate the percentage difference between two numbers?

Yes, subtract the smaller number from the larger number, divide by the larger number, and then multiply by 100.

How do I increase a number by a percentage in Excel?

To increase a number by a percentage, multiply the number by (1 + the percentage in decimal form).

Why is Excel showing my percentage as a decimal?

If Excel shows a decimal, you likely haven’t formatted the cell as a percentage. Right-click the cell, select ‘Format Cells,’ and choose ‘Percentage.’

Can Excel calculate a percentage of a total automatically?

Yes, by using the formula =part/total and formatting the result as a percentage, Excel will calculate the percentage automatically.


  1. Enter your data
  2. Insert the percentage formula
  3. Press Enter
  4. Format as a percentage


Using Excel to calculate percentages is a skill that can come in handy in many aspects of life. From budgeting to analyzing data, knowing how to quickly determine percentages can save you time and effort. The beauty of Excel is that once you’ve got your formula set up, it’s simply a matter of inputting your numbers and letting the program do the heavy lifting. With the ability to customize your formulas, you can use percentages to analyze trends, compare information, and make informed decisions based on your findings. So, whether you’re a student, a professional, or just someone looking to streamline their calculations, give Excel’s percentage function a try. You might just be surprised at how versatile and user-friendly it can be. Don’t forget to use the tips provided to enhance your experience when using Excel to calculate percentages.

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