How to Divide in Excel Using a Formula

Division formulas, #DIV/O! formula errors, and calculating percentages

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Excel doesn't have a divide function, so performing division in Excel requires you to create a formula. Let's learn how to use formulas to divide numbers and calculate percentages in Excel.

This article applies to Excel 2016, 2013, 2010, Excel for Mac, Excel for Android, and Excel Online.

Division in Excel

Here are some important points to remember about Excel formulas:

  • Formulas begin with the equal sign ( = ).
  • The equal sign goes in the cell where you want the answer to display.
  • The division symbol is the forward slash ( / ).
  • The formula is completed by pressing the Enter key on the keyboard.

Use Cell References in Formulas

Although it is possible to enter numbers directly into a formula, it's better to enter the data into worksheet cells and then use cell references as demonstrated in the example below. That way, if it becomes necessary to change the data, it is a simple matter of replacing the data in the cells rather than rewriting the formula. Normally, the results of the formula will update automatically once the data changes.

Example Division Formula Example

Let's create a formula in cell B2 that divides the data in cell A2 by the data in A3.

The finished formula in cell B2 will be:

=A2/A3

Enter the Data

  1. Type the number 20 in cell A2 and press the Enter key.

    The number 20 in cell A2 in an Excel spreadsheet
     Ted French

    To enter cell data in Excel for Android, tap the green check mark to the right of the text field or tap another cell.

  2. Type the number 10 in cell A3 and press Enter.

    The number 10 in cell A3 in an Excel spreadsheet
     Ted French

Enter the Formula Using Pointing

Although it is possible to type the formula (=A2/A3) into cell B2 and have the correct answer display in that cell, it's preferable to use pointing to add the cell references to formulas. Pointing minimizes potential errors created by typing in the wrong cell reference. Pointing simply means selecting the cell containing the data with the mouse pointer (or your finger if you're using Excel for Android) to add cell references to a formula.

To enter the formula:

  1. Type an equal sign ( = ) in cell B2 to begin the formula.

    The equals sign in cell B2 in an Excel spreadsheet
     Ted French
  2. Select cell A2 to add that cell reference to the formula after the equal sign.

    Cell reference A2 in cell B2 in an Excel spreadsheet
     Ted French
  3. Type the division sign ( / ) in cell B2 after the cell reference.

    Cell reference A2 and division slash in cell B2 in an Excel spreadsheet
     Ted French
  4. Select cell A3 to add that cell reference to the formula after the division sign.

    A2/A3 in cell B2 in Excel spreadsheet
     Ted French
  5. Press Enter (in Excel for Android, select the green check mark beside the formula bar) to complete the formula.

The answer (2) appears in cell B2 (20 divided by 10 is equal to 2). Even though the answer is seen in cell B2, selecting that cell displays the formula =A2/A3 in the formula bar above the worksheet.

Change the Formula Data

To test the value of using cell references in a formula, change the number in cell A3 from 10 to 5 and press Enter.

The number 5 in cell A2 in Excel spreadsheet
 Ted French

The answer in cell B2 automatically changes 4 to reflect the change in cell A3.

#DIV/O! Formula Errors

The most common error associated with division operations in Excel is the #DIV/O! error value. This error displays when the denominator in the division formula is equal to zero, which is not allowed in ordinary arithmetic. You may see this error if an incorrect cell reference was entered into a formula, or if a formula was copied to another location using the fill handle.

Calculate Percentages With Division Formulas

A percentage is a fraction or decimal that is calculated by dividing the numerator by the denominator and multiplying the result by 100. The general form of the equation is:

=(numerator/denominator)*100

When the result, or quotient, of a division operation is less then one, Excel represents it as a decimal. That result can be represented as a percentage by changing the default formatting. See Formatting Numbers in Excel Using Shortcut Keys.

Create More Complex Formulas

To expand formulas to include additional operations such as multiplication, continue adding the correct mathematical operator followed by the cell reference containing the new data. Before mixing different mathematical operations together, it is important to understand the order of operations that Excel follows when evaluating a formula. See A Beginners Guide to Excel Formulas for more examples of how to create complex formulas.