Using SUM as a Subtraction Formula in Excel
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In this tutorial, you will learn how to use SUM as a subtraction formula in excel.
When we work with numbers in excel, we sometimes need to subtract them so we can get the result we want. For this subtraction process, we may want to use a builtin excel formula so we can do it faster.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a formula that excel provides to subtract our numbers. However, we have an alternative formula that we can use for the subtraction purpose, which is SUM.
Want to know how to use SUM as a subtraction formula in excel? Read this tutorial until its last part!
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Table of Contents:
SUM as a Subtraction Formula?
We use SUM as a subtraction formula? Isn’t SUM the formula we use to sum our numbers in excel?The primary use of SUM is indeed to sum numbers. However, we can also use it to subtract our numbers in excel.
To do that, we must place a minus symbol (  ) in the subtractor numbers in our subtraction process. We can place it when we input those numbers into our SUM or in the cells where they are. That way, SUM will sum them as negative numbers, which means they will subtract our positive numbers in our sum process!
The Way to Write It and Its Inputs
The way to write SUM as a subtraction formula is the same as the way we write it to sum our numbers.
= SUM ( number1 , number2 , … )
However, don’t forget to add a minus symbol to the numbers we use as the subtractors. By doing that, we can do our subtraction process smoothly using SUM.
Example of Its Usage and Result
The following will give and explain the example of using SUM as a subtraction formula in excel.In this example, you can see how SUM can run our subtraction process.
As we discussed previously, we just need to input all numbers for our subtraction calculation into SUM. Don’t forget to add a minus symbol in front of all the subtractors so SUM can do its job correctly.
Writing Steps
After we have discussed the SUM writing form, inputs, and implementation example, now let’s discuss its writing steps. If you have used SUM to sum your numbers in excel previously, you should be able to master these steps easily!
Type an equal sign ( = ) in the cell where you want to put your subtraction result

Type SUM (can be with large and small letters) and an open bracket sign after =

Input the numbers or cell coordinates or cell ranges where you put your numbers. Type comma signs ( , ) between all your inputs.
Don’t forget the minus symbol on the numbers that become the subtractors. You can add the symbol directly in the SUM formula or the numbers’ cell

Type a close bracket sign after you have inputted all your numbers
 Press Enter

Done!
Alternative: Manual Subtraction Formula Writing in Excel
SUM is great for your subtraction process in excel if you have your numbers in a large cell range. You can just input that cell range to SUM without having to input them one by one in your formula writing.If you involve few numbers in your subtraction process, however, it might be better to type a manual subtraction formula. The manual subtraction formula you type should be something like this.
= number_to_subtract  subtractor
Just don’t forget to type a minus symbol in front of your subtractor if it doesn’t have it yet.
Here is the implementation example of the manual subtraction formula writing in excel.
Just use the one which is simpler for your subtraction condition, either SUM or the manual subtraction formula writing!
Exercise
After you have understood how to use SUM as a subtraction formula, now is the time to do an exercise. You should do this exercise so your understanding of the tutorial lessons can become deeper.Download the exercise file and answer all the questions below. Download the answer key file too if you want to check your answers after finishing the exercise. Or probably when you are confused about how to answer the exercise questions.
Link to the exercise file:
Download here
Questions
Answer the questions in each row in the graycolored cells using SUM! What is the subtraction calculation result of the 5 numbers in row no. 1? In this row, we have given a minus symbol to all the subtractors
 What is the subtraction calculation result of the 5 numbers in row no. 2? The subtractors are the second and fifth numbers. In this row, we haven’t given a minus symbol to all the subtractors
 What is the result if we subtract the no. 2 answer with the no. 1 answer?
Link to the answer key file:
Download here
Additional Note
Using SUM to subtract your numbers in excel might be easier for financial numbers. We usually already give a minus symbol for expenditures in their cells. Thus, there is no need to give minus symbols anymore just for our SUM writing.Related tutorials you should learn: