How to Subtract in Excel 2013: Mastering Formulas for Easy Math

Subtracting in Excel 2013 is a straightforward process that involves using a simple formula. To subtract two or more numbers, you only need to type the formula into a cell, starting with the equals sign, followed by the numbers you want to subtract, with a minus sign between each number. For example, to subtract 10 from 100, you would type “=100-10” in the cell. Once you press enter, Excel will calculate the result and display it in the cell.

After you’ve completed the subtraction, the cell will display the result of the calculation. If you need to adjust the numbers or the formula, you can simply click on the cell and make your changes. Excel will automatically update the result to reflect any changes made.


Subtracting numbers might seem like a basic task that doesn’t need much explanation, but when it comes to Excel, there’s always more than meets the eye. Excel 2013, like its predecessors and successors, is a powerful tool that can handle much more than simple arithmetic. Knowing how to subtract is crucial for anyone who needs to manage budgets, analyze data, or perform any number of tasks that require precise calculations.

This article is not just for Excel newbies but also for anyone who wants to brush up on their Excel skills. Whether you’re a student, a business professional, or just someone who likes to keep personal finances in check, subtracting in Excel can make your life a whole lot easier. Plus, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to apply the same principles to more complex formulas and functions. So let’s get started and dive into the world of Excel subtraction!

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Subtract in Excel 2013 with a Formula

The following steps will guide you through the process of subtracting numbers using a formula in Excel 2013.

Step 1: Choose the Cell for the Result

Select the cell where you want the result of the subtraction to be displayed.

Choosing the right cell is important because it determines where the outcome of your subtraction will be shown. You can select any empty cell or one that already contains a number if you need to update a previous calculation.

Step 2: Type the Equals Sign

Start your formula by typing the equals sign (=) into the selected cell.

The equals sign is crucial because it tells Excel that you’re about to input a formula rather than just a number. Without it, Excel won’t know to perform any calculations.

Step 3: Enter the Numbers to Subtract

Type in the numbers you want to subtract, separating each number with a minus sign (-).

When entering your numbers, make sure that the number you want to subtract from comes first. For example, to subtract 5 from 20, you would type “=20-5”.

Step 4: Press Enter

Hit the enter key to complete the formula and see the result.

After pressing enter, Excel will perform the subtraction and display the result in the cell you selected. If the result doesn’t seem right, double-check your formula to ensure you entered the numbers correctly.


SpeedUsing an Excel formula to subtract is much faster than doing it manually, especially for large data sets.
AccuracyExcel eliminates human error, ensuring your calculations are precise every time.
ReusabilityOnce you’ve created a subtraction formula, you can reuse it by copying and pasting it into other cells.


Learning CurveFor beginners, understanding Excel formulas might take some time and practice.
OverdependenceRelying solely on Excel for calculations can lead to a lack of understanding of basic arithmetic.
Error ProneIf you input the wrong numbers or formula, Excel will still give you a result, which might be incorrect.

Additional Information

While the steps above will get you subtracting in Excel 2013 in no time, there are a few more things to keep in mind. For starters, when working with large data sets, you might want to use cell references instead of typing numbers directly into the formula. This means that instead of writing “=100-10”, you would write “=A1-B1” where A1 contains the number 100 and B1 contains the number 10. This makes your formula dynamic and easily adjustable if the numbers in those cells change.

Another thing to consider is using Excel’s built-in functions. While the simple subtraction formula is great for basic tasks, functions like SUM, SUMIF, and others can provide more complex calculations and conditions for your subtractions. And don’t forget about the power of keyboard shortcuts! Pressing Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V to copy and paste formulas can save you a ton of time.

Lastly, if you’re subtracting in Excel 2013 to analyze data, consider using charts and graphs to visualize your results. Excel’s charting tools can help you see trends and patterns that might not be obvious just by looking at the numbers.


  1. Choose the cell for the result.
  2. Type the equals sign.
  3. Enter the numbers to subtract.
  4. Press enter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I subtract multiple numbers at once?

Yes, you can subtract multiple numbers in one formula by continuing to add minus signs and numbers, like “=100-10-5-3”.

What if I need to subtract a range of cells?

Use the SUM function combined with subtraction, like “=SUM(A1:A10)-SUM(B1:B10)”.

Can I subtract percentages in Excel?

Absolutely, just remember to divide the percentage by 100 or format the cell as a percentage before subtracting.

What if my result is negative?

A negative result simply means that the number you subtracted was larger than the number you started with.

How can I subtract a number from each cell in a column?

You can use a formula that references the cell you want to subtract from and drag it down the column.


Subtracting in Excel 2013 with a formula is a foundational skill that can significantly enhance your data management and analysis capabilities. Whether you’re a student, professional, or casual user, mastering this function is a step toward becoming proficient in Excel.

Remember to practice, explore Excel’s other functions, and always double-check your formulas for accuracy. Excel is a tool with endless possibilities, so keep experimenting and learning to unlock its full potential.

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