How to Calculate Cumulative Total

by Robert Preston

The ability to easily perform calculations automatically is a strong suit of spreadsheet programs, making them the ideal application for tasks such as keeping a cumulative total. In just a few minutes of entry, you can create a spreadsheet which can store all of the individual entries in one column, and the cumulative total, the value of an entry added to all entries above it on the list, in the column next to it.


Start up your spreadsheet program and open up a new spreadsheet by selecting "File" and then "New." Click "File" then "Save" and enter a name for your spreadsheet to save it to your computer before starting, and be sure to save throughout work to avoid losing data.


Enter the data being cumulatively totaled into a column in the spreadsheet. For example, for a simple cumulative total, the date would be entered with the first value in cell A1, the second in cell A2 and so on down Column A.


Create an abstract reference in the first cell of the column which will be the total column. In the above example, a cumulative total would be begun in Column B by entering "=SUM($A$1:A1) into Column B. The "$A$1" notation will remain the same on all entries, and specifies where the accumulation begins, in this case at cell A1.


Click on the cell you just entered the data into, then select all remaining cells in the cumulative total column which match a value in the data column, either by holding shift and clicking on the last cell, or holding shift and pressing the down arrow until you reach the last cell. In the above example, if there were 10 entries in Column A, all the cells from B1 to B10 would be selected.


Fill in the remaining cells with the same formula by selecting "Edit," then "Fill," then "Down." This will automatically copy the entry to the highlighted cells, with the "$A$1" portion unchanged as a starting point, but the A1 changing to the corresponding cell. B3 would read "=SUM($A$1:A3)" for example.

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