Join Bob Flisser for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding numbers using Sum and AutoSum, part of Excel 2010 Essential Training.
If you completed the exercise in the movie about adding numbers manually, you have a worksheet that looks pretty much like this. Well, cherry picking numbers is okay when you have the small worksheet like this, but if you have a lot of numbers, if you have lots of rows and lots of columns, adding those numbers manually is going to get pretty old pretty quickly. So let's show you some easier and faster ways of adding numbers. Let's select all the numbers down here in the Total column and just press Delete on the keyboard, and let's select these cells here across the Total row and again press Delete on your keyboard.
Let's do this a different way. Let's click up here in Cell E6, and we're going to add the numbers, and here we're going to see a function. And we're going to use the Sum function and as it sounds, the Sum function adds numbers. It's probably the number one most commonly used function in Excel. So type in an equal sign and now you have to type the name of the function, which is Sum. And when you do that, you see you get a little pop-up help. Let's just ignore that for now. Open up your parenthesis and you see it's giving you some help. Here is what we do.
We simply drag across these three numbers. So we're telling Excel, give us the sum of B6:D6. That is B6 through and including D6. Be very careful that you don't drag onto E6, because if you do, you're going to get an error. It's basically saying what's the total of B6 through E6 including E6. It doesn't really make a lot of sense. So just press Enter, and there you have the sum. If you click there, you can see in the Formula bar, there you go.
Let's try that one more time just for practice. So I'll add across the row for Los Angeles. So we'll say equals. Sum, open up the parenthesis, drag across these three numbers, make sure it's only those three numbers. See where those marching ants are going? Just around those three numbers. And this time let's press Ctrl+Enter, so we enter and stay on the same cell. Put your mouse pointer on the Auto Fill handle, see your mouse pointer becomes a crosshair, and double-click. And it fills it all in.
Let's take a look, make sure this is right. If you press Ctrl+Tilde. The Tilde key is to the left of the 1 and above your Tab key. So you could see here, Excel rewrote these functions so it's always =SUM of Column B through Column D, but Excel rewrote which row it is, which is really great. So just press Ctrl+Tilde so we get back. And let's do the Sum function for January. Click on cell B14 and let's type =SUM, open up the parenthesis, and drag down these numbers in the January column.
And again, press Ctrl+Enter. So we have the number. Put your mouse pointer on the dot so we get that crosshair, and when you get that crosshair, just drag across to Column E to the Totals column, and there you go. Well, that's great. That's a lot easier and a lot faster than adding it manually, but wait, there's an even easier way of putting in the Sum function. Once again, let's select all those numbers in Column E and delete. Select these numbers across the Total row and delete. Now, let's go back where we started in Cell E6.
Well, because the Sum function is so common, it's used so often, Excel gives us an easier way of using it rather than typing it in. So let's make sure we're on Cell E6. Also, we want to be on the Home tab. And over here on the right side, you see we have the AutoSum tool. Now, just click the AutoSum tool and look at that. Excel puts in the formula for us, correctly selects those cells, and just press Enter. Press the AutoSum tool again and again Excel fills those numbers in correctly. Press Enter.
Well, the AutoSum tool is great, but it's not perfect. Look what happens here. Right now when we're in Cell E8, we have three numbers to the left, we have two numbers above. When you click the AutoSum tool, look at what it's doing. Excel can't read our minds. It says hey, you probably add numbers down more often than you add numbers across. So let's take those numbers . Well, that's obviously the wrong answer. Well, you don't have to panic. All you have to do is leave the formula open, leave the marching ants there and just manually drag across the correct numbers, and Excel rewrites the formula as it's open for editing, which is great, and just press Enter.
And if you do it down here again, and click the AutoSum tool, again Excel makes that mistake of trying to add the incorrect numbers, but not a big deal. You can drag across the correct numbers and fix it. Now, you don't have to worry about that too much, because if you remember to Auto Fill, and you take the Auto Fill handle on the number and drag or double-click, then Excel does put in the correct numbers. So you don't have to worry about that. Well, let's use the sum function going down the column. So click in Cell B14, I am going to type =Sum, open up the parenthesis, drag down the numbers in January, and you can see where the marching ants are, then I'm just going to press Ctrl+Enter so we have that number.
So let's go to February and this time let's click the AutoSum tool and great! But a little bit of difference though is when you click the AutoSum tool, you notice that Excel picks up that blank cell where it didn't pick up the blank cell over here if you typed it manually. Well, the number is going to be correct because an empty cell has a value of zero, but Excel tends not to like when it thinks your formulas are inconsistent. Like if you're adding more cells in one place than in another. So you might want to manually drag that.
But the AutoSum tool can get a little confused here. If you click in Cell D14 and click AutoSum, look what it's doing. Again, it's doing incorrectly the opposite of what it did before. So you may have to manually drag those correct numbers to put it in. But honestly, you really don't have to worry about this too much. Let's just select those two numbers and delete. If you take the first number that you did in January and get the AutoSum handle and drag to the right, then it will give you the correct numbers. So you really want to be careful when you're using the AutoSum just to make sure that it's giving you the right answer.
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