How to Get a Running Total by Subtraction in Excel

By Contributor

Updated May 08, 2020

Excel is a spreadsheet program created by Microsoft and is included in the Microsoft Office suite. From adding large columns of numbers to calculating percentages and creating graphs and charts, Excel makes number manipulation easier. With the use of a simple formula, a running total by subtraction can also be created using an Excel spreadsheet. This could prove helpful for someone who wants to double check their check register, show deductions out of an account for bookkeeping purposes, or keep track of inventory items.

Enter the numbers you want to subtract from beginning total in a column on the left. For example, if you want to subtract 10, 14, 19 and 16 from 1000, you would place 10, 14, 19 and 16 in cells A2, A3, A4 and A5. Place the beginning total in a second column. For example, 1000 would go into cell B1.

Screenshot of Excel spreadsheet.

Write the formula for the running subtraction, or balance. In cell B2, type "=SUM(B1-A2)". This will subtract 10 from 1000 and put the result, 990, in cell B2.

Formula for running total by subtraction in Excel.

Copy the formula to the lower cells to create a running total. Click on cell B2. Move the cursor to the bottom right corner, then click and drag the cell downward to drag the formula down the column. This will copy the formula to the lower cells so you won't have to rewrite the formula for each cell.

Running total by subtraction in Excel.


Sometimes getting dragging the formula to copy can be tricky. As an alternative, you can copy (Control+C) the contents of the cell that holds the formula and then paste (Control+V) it into the lower cells.