How to Multiply Numbers in Excel

It's easier than you might think

Number Scoreboard
Daniel Haug / Getty Images

As with all basic math operations in Excel, multiplying two or more numbers involves creating a formula.

Note: The information in this article applies to Excel versions 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, Excel Online, and Excel for Mac.

Excel Formula Basics

Here are a few important points to remember about Excel formulas:

  • Formulas in Excel begin with the equal sign ( = ).
  • The equal sign goes in the cell where you want to display the answer.
  • The multiplication sign or operator used in Excel formulas is the asterisk ( * ) symbol.

Use Cell References in Formulas

It's possible to enter numbers directly into a formula. But it's much better to enter the data into worksheet cells and then use the addresses or references of those cells in the formula.

Screenshot of Excel showing the correct results for our formula

The main advantage of using cell references in a formula, rather than the actual data, can be seen when the data in the cells is changed. When the actual data is used for the calculation, the formula needs to be rewritten. When using cell references, the results of the formula update automatically when the data in the target cells change.

Use Pointing to Enter Cell References

It is possible to type the cell references to be used in the formula, but a better approach is to use pointing to add the cell references. Pointing involves selecting the target cells containing the data to add the cell reference to the formula. This minimizes the possibility of errors created by typing the wrong cell reference.

Multiplication Formula

The example in the image above creates a formula in cell C1 that multiplies the data in cell A1 by the data in cell A2. The finished formula in cell E1 looks like:

= A1 * A2

Type the Data

  1. Type the number 10 in cell A1 and press Enter.

    Excel showing cell A1 with the number 10 in it
  2. Type the number 20 in cell A2 and press Enter.

    Excel showing cell A2 with the number 20 in it

Create the Formula

  1. Select cell C1 to make it the active cell. This is where the result of the formula will appear.

    Excel showing cell C1 selected
  2. Type = (an equal sign) into cell C1.

    Excel showing cell C1 with the = symbol in it
  3. Select cell A1 to enter that cell reference into the formula.

    Excel showing cell C1 with the =A1 in it
  4. Type * (​an asterisk symbol) after cell A1.

    Excel showing cell C1 with =A1* in it
  5. Select cell A2 to enter that cell reference.

    Excel showing cell C1 with =A1*A2 in it
  6. Press Enter to complete the formula. Cell C1 displays the result of 200.

    Excel showing cell A1 with the number 200 in it

Update the Formula Data

To test the value of using cell references in a formula, change the number in cell A2 from 20 to 5 and press Enter. The answer in cell C1 automatically updates to 50 to reflect the change in data in cell A2.

Fix the Formula

If it becomes necessary to correct or change a formula:

  • Double-click the formula in the worksheet to place Excel in Edit mode and then make changes to the formula. This works best for minor changes.
  • Select the cell containing the formula and rewrite the entire formula. This method is best for major changes.
Screenshot of Excel showing a formula can be changed

Create More Complex Formulas

To write more complex formulas that include multiple operations (such as subtraction, addition, and division, as well as multiplication), add the correct mathematical operators in the correct order followed by the cell references containing the data. For practice, try this step by step example of a more complex formula.

Before mixing different mathematical operations together in a formula, it is important to understand the order of operations that Excel follows when evaluating a formula.