How to Calculate Percentage in Excel

Figuring percentages can be a snap when you know the right formulas

Man working on laptop with excel spreadsheet open Excel

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Excel is a powerful calculator that can work with numerous types of data and perform complex calculations with only a few clicks. You can calculate a percentage in Excel using various methods, such as formulas or formatting, but the approach you take depends on both the specific type of result you need and the version of Excel you are using. 

The following methods work for Microsoft 365, Excel 2019, Excel 2016, Excel 2013, Excel 2010, Excel 2007, Excel Online, Excel 2016 for Mac, and Excel for Mac 2011.

How to calculate percentage in Excel

While there's no basic percentage formula in Excel, you can multiply a number by a percentage using a formula. For example, if you have a column containing numbers and want to calculate 10% of one of those numbers, you need to enter 10% in another cell, then use a formula using the asterisk as the multiplication operator. 

  1. Select an empty cell where you want the answer displayed and enter an equal sign (=) followed by an open parenthesis ( to begin creating the formula.

    In Excel for Mac, you don't need the parenthesis.

    Beginning to enter a formula in Excel.
  2. Select the cell containing the number of which you want to find 10%. 

    Entering in A1 cell reference.
  3. Enter an asterisk (*). 

    Entering an asterisk in the formula.
  4. Select the cell in which you entered 10%.

    Entering in the second cell reference.
  5. Enter a close parenthesis ) and press Enter. The calculation appears in the selected cell.

    Example: Enter 573 into cell A1 and enter 10% into cell B1. Copy the following formula and paste it into cell C1 to calculate 10% of 573:

    =(A1*B1)

    Entering in a close parenthesis.
  6. You should now see the newly computed percentage in cell C1.

    A finished percentage formula in Excel.

Multiply the cells in a column by the same percentage

You can quickly calculate all the numbers in a column by the same percentage using the same formula with a few extra steps. For instance, if you to calculate 7% tax for the numbers in column A and display it in column C, you would use the following method:

  1. Enter the numbers you want to multiply by 7% into Column A.

    The number 1000 is in cell A1 in Excel.
  2. Select Column B

    The B column is highlighted in Excel.
  3. Right-click and select Format Cells.

    Selecting the format cells option in Excel.
  4. Select Percentage and select OK.

    Setting the cell format to percentage in Excel.
  5. Enter 7% into B1.

    The number 7% is in the B1 cell in Excel.
  6. Select B1.

    The cursor in Excel has changed to a plus sign.
  7. Point to the lower-right corner of the cell until you see a Plus sign (+). This is the fill handle.

    Cell B1 is selected in Excel.
  8. Select the fill handle/Plus sign and drag it down over the other cells in Column B to copy the percentage to those cells, as well.

    Selecting several cells in Excel.
  9. Select Column C.

    The C column is selected in Excel.
  10. Right-click and select Format Cells.

    Selecting format cells in Excel.
  11. Select Number and select OK.

    Formatting the cells as numbers in Excel.
  12. Select cell C1 and enter =(A1*B1) in Excel 2019, 2016, Excel 2013, Excel 2010, Excel 2007 or Excel Online.

    Enter =A1*B1 in Excel 2016 for Mac or Excel for Mac 2011.

    Entering in a formula in Excel.
  13. The first calculation appears in C1

    Computing percentage in Excel.
  14. Select C1.

    The C1 cell is highlighted in Excel.
  15. Select the fill handle/Plus sign and drag down over the other cells in Column C. This will copy the percentage formula to the other cells and automatically calculate the percentages of all the numbers in the first column.

    The percentage formula has been applied to several cells.

How to find the percentage of a total

Another option is to calculate the percentage of a total. For instance, if you're trying to save $1,500 and are up to $736 in your savings account, you might want to know what percentage of your goal you've reached. Rather than multiplying, you'll need to use a formula to divide. 

  1. Enter the total goal into one cell. For example, enter 1500 into A1

    The number 1500 is in cell A1 in Excel.
  2. Enter the total to date in another cell. For example, enter 736 into B1.

    The number 736 is in cell B1 in Excel.
  3. Select the cell where you want to display the percentage. 

    The cell C1 is selected in Excel.
  4. Enter an equal sign (=) and open parenthesis ( and select the cell containing the total date; in this example, that would be B1). 

    In Excel for Mac, you do not need to include the parenthesis.

    Entering in =(B1 in the cell C1.
  5. Type a forward slash (/), then select the cell containing the total; in this example, it would be /A1.

    Entering in the cell A1 into the formula.
  6. Enter a close parenthesis ) and press Enter.

    In Excel for Mac, you do not need to include the parenthesis.

    Entering a close parenthesis into the formula.

    Your formula should look like this: =(B1/A1) in Excel 2019, 2016, Excel 2013, Excel 2010, Excel 2007 or Excel Online. 

    Your formula should look like this: =B1/A1 in Excel 2016 for Mac or Excel for Mac 2011.

  7. A number appears in the selected cell. 

    The formula results are in cell C1.
  8. Right-click the cell and select Format Cells

    Selecting to change cell format in cell C1.
  9. Select Percentage. Adjust the decimals, if desired, then select OK.

    The cell format is changed to a percentage.

    If you're using Excel Online, select Home, point to Number Format and choose Percentage.

  10. The percentage appears in the cell. 

    A new percentage has been calculated.

Change an amount by a percentage in Excel

If you want to decrease an amount by a specific percentage, Excel can help. For instance, you might want to decrease your grocery spending on your budget worksheet by 17%. To do so, you'll need to calculate the percentage using multiplication and subtraction.

  1. Enter the amount you want to change by a percentage in the first cell. For example, enter $200 in cell A1.

    Two hundred dollars is entered into cell A1.
  2. Select the second column. 

    The B column is highlighted.
  3. Right-click the cell and select Format Cells. Choose Percentage and select OK.

    If you're using Excel Online, select Home, point to Number Format and choose Percentage.

    Formatting the cells as a percentage.
  4. Enter the percentage by which you want to reduce the original amount in the second column. For instance, enter 17% in B1.

    Entering 17% in cell B1.
  5. Select inside the third cell where you want to display the changed amount.

    Selecting the C1 cell in Excel.
  6. For this example, the formula you would use is =A1*(1-B1). The formula in parentheses calculates the percentage, which the remainder of the formula subtracts from the original amount.

    To increase the amount by a percentage, use the same formula but simply replace the Plus sign (+) with a Minus sign (-).

    A formula is entered into cell C1.
  7. You should see the end result after pressing Enter.

    The end result of the formula.