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Popular Functions in Excel: Lesson 2 – “SUM”

2 minute read

Excel Green

In part two of our miniseries on the most popular Excel functions, we’ll cover the “SUM” function, which adds values together.

If you missed part one of our series, click here.

SUM is a very popular function that is useful in a wide variety of spreadsheet types. If you’re dealing with small amounts of data, SUM can provide a handy shortcut and save you from doing math or making mistakes when working manually. However, it’s when working with large data sets that the SUM function really becomes invaluable.

All you have to do to execute a SUM in Excel is type =SUM and then an open parenthesis. Then, select the range of cells that you wish to sum, close the parentheses, and hit Enter. The cell will return the total of all the numbers in the selected cells.


If you’re dealing with a really massive range, highlighting data for the SUM might not be practical, so instead, you can do what we did before, but just type the cell references in manually, separating them by a colon.


Another important use of the SUM function is the ability to input more than one range of cells. So if you want to include data from the A and B columns, you just have to separate the ranges by a comma inside the parentheses.


SUM also has a useful feature that makes it better for adding certain types of data than just typing =A1+B1 or some variation on the addition command in Excel. The problem with this type of command is that if you try and add data from a cell that contains a non-number like this…


…your formula will break:


However, sometimes you have data like this, where there might be both numbers and character strings in a range. The SUM command will exclude the words and instead just add the numbers, which is generally what we’re looking for.

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

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