Explanation of the SUM function

The SUM function will add the numbers that you provide as inputs. The image below shows the arguments that the function is asking for:

  1. At least 1 numeric input (required)
  2. Up to a total of 255 numeric inputs (optional)

Note: the SUM function ignores logical values (TRUE or FALSE) and text values.

SUM in Excel

There are a few different ways you can input values:

  • Single Cell (would just return the same number)
  • Multiple cells selected individually
  • One range of cells
  • Multiple ranges of cells
  • Number values typed directly into the SUM function
  • Named ranges
  • A combination of the above (separated by commas within the SUM function)

In the image below I have manually named range D4:D10 as ‘range2’. The last formula is calculating the SUM of ‘range2’ which is the same as adding up all the numbers in D4:D10.

SUM function Excel example

Hotkey for the SUM Function is “Alt” (Alt) + “=” (Equal)

If you are summing a column and want to use the hotkey:

  • Click into the 1st empty cell under your list of numbers
  • Press and hold “Alt” (the Alt key) on your keyboard
  • Press “=” once (the equal symbol) on your keyboard
  • Let go of the Alt key
  • Microsoft Excel will display the SUM function with an automatically suggested range
  • Press Enter to use the suggested range or you can modify the function

You can easily adapt this approach to rows of numbers (instead of columns) if you are summing numbers within a row.

Quick Sum on the Status Bar

If you highlight a range of cells, Microsoft Excel will automatically display the SUM on the status bar. This is a great feature if you quickly need to determine the SUM of a range of values and don’t need to perform any mathematical calculation with it or store the value on your spreadsheet.

In the example below, the status bar is displaying a value of 39:

  • Click into cell B4 and keep the left-mouse button clicked in
  • Drag the mouse cursor down to cell B10
  • Let go of the left mouse button
  • The value will appear in the status bar (as shown in the image below)

SUM function in Microsoft Excel


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