How to Use Basic Math Formulas Like Addition and Subtraction in Excel

What to Know

• You can subtract, divide, multiply, and add in Excel within the cells of a spreadsheet.
• You can also do exponents, change order of operations, and do various mathematical functions in Excel.
• These features rely on cell references to other cells to make calculations.

Excel can perform an array of basic math functions, and the articles listed below will show you how to create the necessary formulas to add, subtract, multiply, or divide numbers. Also, learn how to work with exponents and basic mathematical functions.

How to Subtract in Excel

Topics covered:

• How to subtract numbers using a formula.
• A step-by-step example of creating a subtraction formula in Excel using point and click.
• Why using cell references will make it easy to update your calculations if your data should ever change.

How to Divide in Excel

Topics covered:

• How to divide two numbers using a formula.
• A step-by-step example of creating a division formula in Excel using point and click.
• Why using cell references will make it easy to update your calculations if your data should ever change.

How to Multiply in Excel

Topics covered:

• How to multiply two numbers using a formula.
• A step-by-step example of creating a multiplication formula in Excel using point and click.
• Why using cell references will make it easy to update your calculations if your data should ever change.

Topics covered:

• How to add two numbers using a formula.
• A step-by-step example of creating an addition formula in Excel using point and click.
• Why using cell references will make it easy to update your calculations if your data should ever change.

How to Change the Order of Operations in Excel

Topics covered:

• The order of operations these spreadsheet programs follow when calculating a formula.
• How to change the order of operations in formulas.

Exponents in Excel

Although less used than the mathematical operators listed above, Excel uses the caret character ( ^ ) as the exponent operator in formulas. Exponents are sometimes referred to as repeated multiplication since the exponent indicates how many times the base number should be multiplied by itself.

For example, the exponent 4^2 (four squared) has a base number of 4 and an exponent of 2 and is raised to the power of two.

Either way, the formula is a short form of saying that the base number should be multiplied together twice (4 x 4) to give a result of 16.

Similarly, 5^3 (five cubed) indicates that the number 5 should be multiplied a total of three times (5 x 5 x 5) which calculates to 125.

Excel Math Functions

In addition to the basic math formulas listed above, Excel has several functions — built-in formulas — that can be used to carry out many mathematical operations.

These functions include:

• The SUM function - Adds up columns or rows of numbers.
• The PRODUCT function - Multiplies two or more numbers together. When multiplying just two numbers, a multiplication formula is more straightforward.
• The QUOTIENT function - Returns only return the integer portion (whole number only) of a division operation.
• The MOD function - Returns only the remainder of a division operation.