How to Calculate Negatives in Excel

By Tricia Goss

Excel can perform math calculations for you.
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Microsoft Excel is a powerful business tool as it gives you the ability to calculate complex numbers and create intricate formulas. For instance, you can calculate the sum of multiple negative numbers when you format the cells containing those numbers correctly and use the right function. While finding the total of negatives is the same as subtracting positive numbers, you actually use the SUM function to calculate negatives.

Select the column containing negative numbers or the column to which you plan to add negative numbers. Right-click anywhere on the selected column and choose "Format Cells." The Format Cells dialog box opens.

Select the "Number" tab. Click on "Number" in the Category group. Choose the appearance you want to use for negatives in the Negative Numbers section and click "OK."

If you need to add negative numbers to the column, do that now. To indicate that a number is negative, type a minus sign in front of the number or enclose the number in parentheses. Excel formats the negative numbers using the method you selected in the Format Cells dialog.

Click inside the cell where you want the calculation to appear. Click the "AutoSum" drop-down arrow in the Editing group of the Home tab and choose "Sum."

Select the cells you want included in the calculation and press "Enter." Excel calculates all of the data in these cells, including negatives, and displays the result in the selected cell.