The excel SUM function

Excel SUM function: YOUR OBJECTIVE

You want to calculate sums quickly and efficiently. The SUM function helps with this task.

In this learning module you will learn how to use the SUM function and what you have to pay attention to.


In the illustrated example, the total amounts for each customer have to be added in column E. The sum of all totals has to be calculated in cell E10. You can of course enter the formula =B4+C4+D4, but this would mean a lot of typing and clicking. And there is the risk of missing some cells when dealing with several addends. You can use the excel SUM function to add up these numbers quickly and easily.

Excel SUM has a special status among the Excel functions. It has its own button on the ribbon, because it is needed so often. It is found in the Editing group on the Home tab.

To calculate a sum using this button, select the cell you want to display the result in first. Then click the button.

Excel SUM function analyzes the worksheet starting from the target cell and usually suggests a range of cells to add up. The primary analysis goes upward: If there are numbers in the cells above the target cell, then these will be suggested to be added up. If there are no numbers above, then the range to the left of the target cell is analyzed. If numbers are found here, then a suggestion is made from these cells. If there are no numbers above or to the left, then no suggestion is made.

If you want to accept the range of cells suggested by Excel, press the [Enter] key.

You can edit the suggestion by dragging your mouse with the left mouse button pressed over the range of cells you want (pointing method). Then press [Enter] to accept the selected cell range.

You can copy the function to the cells below using Auto Fill, to calculate the sums for the rows below too.


If you want to add up a whole block of values as in our example, then proceed as follows:

Select the block of numbers as shown in the illustration plus the cells where you want to display the results. Then click . The excel  sums are entered into the target cells. This saves you the time for copying the function to the rows below.

Another way to enter the excel SUM function is via the formula bar. Select the cell in which you want to calculate the sum and type the equals sign “=”. Then type the name of the function, e.g. excel”SUM” (you can also use lower case letters) followed by a bracket “(” (do not enter a blank in between!). Now you can either type the cell range you want to add up (e.g. E4:E9) or select the cells with your mouse. When you release the mouse button now, the cell range is included in the function. Close the function by typing a closing bracket “)”.

When you press the [Enter] key now, the function is applied to the cell and the result of the addition is displayed in the cell.


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