How to Sum a Column in an Excel Spread Sheet

by Danielle CortUpdated September 28, 2017
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Many complex tables or spreadsheets that you may create are based on the basic principle of summing a column or row of numbers. In many cases, summing may be all you need to create totals or make sense of your data. Because summing is so common and necessary for much of spreadsheet work, Excel offers a dedicated button on the ribbon for doing quick sums.

Auto Summing

Open Excel to a blank spreadsheet or load an existing spreadsheet with numbers you want to sum.

Enter numbers in a column if you are starting with a blank spreadsheet. Click an empty cell and enter a number then press the “Enter” key. Excel takes you to the cell below the number you just entered. Enter more numbers in the same way.

Click the cell underneath the last number entered to start your formula.

Select the "Home" tab on the ribbon if it is not on top, then click the “AutoSum” button on the ribbon, indicated by the letter sigma. Excel will outline all the numbers in the column above. Press “Enter.”

Manual Summing

Click an empty cell underneath your column of numbers.

Enter the following formula:


Click the first cell you want to sum and drag to the last cell you want to sum. For example, if your data reside in cells C2 through C9, click cell C2 and drag to C9. Excel will display the cell range with a colon. Enter a closing parenthesis. For example, your formula may look like this:


Press “Enter” to see the result.


Photo Credits

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About the Author

Danielle Cort has been a freelance writer since 2008, specializing in psychology, health, education and parenting. She has published articles in "Family" magazine. Before becoming a freelance writer, Cort worked in the public policy research sector, conducting research, creating surveys and budgets. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in social psychology from the University of Massachusetts.

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