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Video:Excel Autosum Function

with Don Schechter

Learn how to use the sum and autosum functions in Microsoft Excel and you'll appreciate the efficiency of spreadsheets for dealing with data lists. You'll never use a calculator again!See Transcript

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Transcript:Excel Autosum Function

Hi. I'm Don Schechter for About.com Computing. Today I am going to show you how to use a powerful tool in Microsoft Excel, the sum function. This tool is very helpful for many tasks ranging from running a business to managing your personal finances.

Why Use Excel Sum Function?

For this demonstration, I've created a list of food expenses from January to July. Instead of going to a calculator and typing in all these numbers excel can add them up for you.

Finding Excel Autosum Function

First, I will click in the field next to the word total. I want my sum to go here. Now, if I go to this icon, called autosum, excel guesses that I want to add up all the cells above it. If you can't find this icon, go up to insert and click on function. This provides a list of all the possible functions.

Deciphering Excel Autosum Function

Once I click on it some text pops up. It shows an equals sign, the word sum and then in parenthesis is B3:B10. What this means is that it is going to add up all the values in the cells ranging from B3 to B 10. If I hit return, I now have the total. If I want to delete that total I can just click on the cell and hit delete.

Sum vs. Autosum in Excel

The autosum function is useful but not always what you want. Let us say I want to only calculate how much I spent from March to May. In this case, I have a few different options. If I click and highlight the values from March to June, and then click on the autosum button, I do get the sum total for just these three fields. However, it put the sum in the first available field below the numbers. Not where I want it to go.

Limiting Sum Inputs in Excel

To get the sum of those three values in the right place, I am going to first click on the field where I want it to go. Now, next to the autosum button is a small arrow that I will click on. If I go down to sum and click on it the same formula and range appears as before. Regardless if I clicked on the autosum icon or the sum function in the drop down menu I can change which fields are calculated by clicking and dragging the fields I want. See how the range is now B5 to B7.

But we are not done. Lets say that I actually want to add how much I spent every other month. I will first delete my total field, go back to the sum function, and instead of dragging, I will click on each of the fields I want to add together. Instead of a colon inbetween the cells, indicating a range of cells, we have each field listed and separated by an addition sign. If I hit return I get my total.

The Sum function is just one of many tools in Excel. Once you get used to the basics of this function, you can use it to determine everything from finances to school grades. Thanks for watching, for more information please visit us online at Computing.About.com

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