How to Calculate PV in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Calculating present value (PV) in Excel is simpler than it sounds. You just need to use a built-in function called "PV" and input the correct parameters. This quick guide will walk you through the steps to calculate PV in Excel, making it easy for you to find out the current worth of a series of future cash flows.

How to Calculate PV in Excel

Calculating the present value (PV) in Excel helps you determine how much a future amount of money is worth today. Follow these steps to use Excel’s PV function effectively.

Step 1: Open Excel

First, step 1 is to launch Microsoft Excel on your computer.

Opening Excel is as simple as clicking on the Excel icon in your applications menu or taskbar. If you don’t have it installed, you’ll need to download and install it first.

Step 2: Create a New Spreadsheet

Next, step 2 is to open a new blank workbook.

In Excel, select "File" from the menu and choose "New" to start a blank workbook. This will provide you with a clean slate to work on.

Step 3: Enter the PV Function

For step 3, click on a cell where you want the result and type =PV(.

This initiates the PV formula. You’ll notice that Excel will show a tooltip with the parameters needed for the function: rate, nper, pmt, [fv], [type].

Step 4: Input the Rate

Next, step 4 is to enter the interest rate.

Type the annual interest rate divided by the number of periods per year. For example, if the annual rate is 5% and payments are monthly, you would input 5%/12.

Step 5: Enter the Number of Periods

For step 5, input the total number of payment periods.

If your loan is for 10 years with monthly payments, you would type 10*12. This calculates the total number of months.

Step 6: Input the Payment Amount

Next, step 6 is to enter the payment amount.

Type the recurring payment amount in the formula. This should be the same amount for each period. If you’re making monthly payments of $1000, you would input -1000.

Step 7: Enter Future Value (Optional)

Step 7 is to input the future value (if applicable).

If there is a lump sum to be paid or received at the end of the period, input that here. If not, you can leave this blank or set it to zero.

Step 8: Input Payment Type (Optional)

For step 8, specify when payments are made (optional).

Enter 0 if payments are made at the end of the period or 1 if they’re made at the beginning. By default, it’s set to 0.

Step 9: Close the Parenthesis and Press Enter

Finally, step 9 is to complete the formula.

Close the parenthesis and hit Enter. The cell will now display the present value.

Once you complete these steps, Excel will display the present value, showing you how much the series of future payments is worth in today’s terms.

Tips for Calculating PV in Excel

  • Double-Check Your Inputs: Make sure all numbers are in the correct format.
  • Use Cell References: Instead of typing numbers directly, use cell references to make adjustments easier.
  • Understand the Function: Familiarize yourself with each parameter to avoid mistakes.
  • Adjust for Compounding: Ensure the rate and number of periods align with the compounding frequency.
  • Utilize Help Resources: Use Excel’s built-in help or online tutorials for additional guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is PV in Excel?

PV stands for Present Value. It calculates what a series of future cash flows is worth in today’s dollars.

Can I use PV for irregular payments?

No, the PV function is designed for regular, equal payments. For irregular payments, you would need a different approach.

What does the "rate" parameter represent?

The "rate" parameter represents the interest rate per period. Make sure to adjust this for the frequency of payments.

How do I handle payments at different times?

Use the "type" parameter to specify whether payments occur at the beginning or end of each period.

Can I calculate PV for multiple cash flows?

Yes, but you may need to sum multiple PV calculations for each individual cash flow if they are not uniform.


  1. Open Excel
  2. Create a New Spreadsheet
  3. Enter the PV Function
  4. Input the Rate
  5. Enter the Number of Periods
  6. Input the Payment Amount
  7. Enter Future Value (Optional)
  8. Input Payment Type (Optional)
  9. Close the Parenthesis and Press Enter


Calculating PV in Excel is a breeze once you know the steps. With this guide, you should feel more confident about using the PV function to determine the present value of future cash flows. Whether you’re budgeting for a loan or planning an investment, knowing how to calculate PV will arm you with the financial insight you need.

For further reading, you might want to explore Excel’s other financial functions like FV (Future Value) and NPV (Net Present Value). These tools can add more depth to your financial analysis. Now that you’ve mastered the basics, dive in and start experimenting with different scenarios to see how powerful Excel can be!

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