How to Do Percent Change in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

How to Do Percent Change in Excel

Calculating percent change in Excel is a breeze! You can simply use a formula to find the difference between two numbers and then express that difference as a percentage of the original number. Follow a few straightforward steps and you’ll have your percent change calculated in no time.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Do Percent Change in Excel

In this tutorial, we’ll go through a series of easy-to-follow steps to help you calculate percent change in Excel. By the end, you’ll be able to calculate how much a value has increased or decreased in percentage terms.

Step 1: Open Excel and Enter Your Data

First, open up Excel and input your initial and final values into two separate cells. For example, A1 and B1.

Ensure your data is accurately entered. The initial value is the starting point, while the final value is the one you compare against.

Step 2: Select the Cell for the Result

Next, choose the cell where you want the percent change to appear. Click on the cell to make it active.

This cell will display the percent change result. It’s best to choose a cell close to your original data for easier reference.

Step 3: Enter the Formula

Type the formula =(B1-A1)/A1 into the selected cell and press Enter.

This formula calculates the difference, divides by the initial value, and gives you the decimal form of your percent change.

Step 4: Format the Result as a Percentage

To see the result as a percentage, select the result cell, go to the Home tab, and click on the Percent Style button.

Excel will convert the decimal result into a percentage format, making it easier to interpret.

Step 5: Adjust for Negative Values (Optional)

If your percent change might be negative, ensure the formula and formatting correctly reflect this by entering it as =(B1-A1)/ABS(A1).

This ensures negative changes are displayed accurately, showing if the value has decreased.

Once you’ve completed these steps, Excel will automatically calculate and display the percent change whenever you update the initial or final values.

Tips for How to Do Percent Change in Excel

  • Double-check Data: Always verify that your initial and final values are entered correctly to avoid errors in your percent change calculation.
  • Use Absolute References: If applying the formula to multiple rows, use $ to lock cell references, like =($B$1-$A$1)/$A$1.
  • Format Cells: Ensure your result cell is formatted as a percentage to immediately see the value in percent terms.
  • Handle Negative Values: Use the ABS function to manage potential negative changes in your data.
  • Save Frequently: Regularly save your work to prevent data loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is percent change?

Percent change shows how much a value has increased or decreased in percentage terms between two points in time.

Why is my formula not working?

Ensure you’ve entered the formula correctly, and check that your initial and final values are in the correct cells.

How do I handle large datasets?

Use Excel’s fill handle to drag the formula across multiple cells, or use absolute references for more efficiency.

Can I calculate percent change for non-adjacent cells?

Yes, just adjust the cell references in the formula to point to the correct cells.

What if I get a division by zero error?

Ensure that your initial value is not zero, as dividing by zero is undefined.


  1. Open Excel and enter your data.
  2. Select the cell for the result.
  3. Enter the formula =(B1-A1)/A1.
  4. Format the result as a percentage.
  5. Adjust for negative values if necessary.


Learning how to do percent change in Excel is incredibly useful for analyzing data trends, comparing performance, and understanding growth or decline over time. With just a few simple steps, you can convert raw data into insightful information. Remember to double-check your data entries and formulas for accuracy. For further reading, you might want to explore more advanced Excel functions and data analysis techniques. Don’t hesitate to practice with different datasets to hone your skills. Once you master this basic yet powerful tool, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle more complex Excel tasks.

Get Our Free Newsletter

How-to guides and tech deals

You may opt out at any time.
Read our Privacy Policy