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The SUM function operates very similar to a calculator summing numbers. Let's use the following list of numbers in a worksheet as an example:
If we were to use a calculator to add these numbers together, we'd do it like so:
However, if we were to use Excel to accomplish the same exact thing, we'd could do it like this:
Notice here, how we're using cell references instead of numbers. That's part of the power of Excel, it enables efficiency and "one source of truth". We'll get to that later, but for now, let's highlight the purpose behind the SUM function alone.
The SUM function takes a list of numbers and adds them together.
Coding a SUM
With the following code template...
...we can sum our values by referencing each cell like so.
We can additionally find the sum of the list of values above by typing our SUM function and highlighting the cells like so:
However, what if one of the cells I wanted to include in the sum was not in the same column, like so?
All we'd need to do would be re-highlight my values while holding the Control button! (Mac users, hold the Command button).
To highlight multiple groupings of cells, hold down the Control button (for Mac users, hold down the Command button).
Coding an AutoSUM
If you have a list of values all in one column, you can use AutoSum (in the Formulas ribbon) to quickly obtain the sum.
You can use AutoSum with a horizontal list of values too!
AutoSum is a powerful formula, however you need to make sure of one thing when using it...
Only use AutoSum if the cell containing the sum is directly in line with the cells you're summing.
If you attempt to AutoSum a list of values in a cell not in line with your values, AutoSum will not recognize what numbers you're trying to sum and won't work.
Given the following values...
- Compute the "SUM Answer" with the SUM function in cell C1.
- Compute the "AutoSUM Answer" with the AutoSUM function in cell A6.
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Next, let's learn about the difference between relative and absolute cell references!
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