How Do You Subtract in Excel 2016: A Step-by-Step Guide

Subtracting in Excel 2016 is a straightforward process that requires a few simple steps. You can subtract numbers, cells, or even ranges of cells with ease. Whether you’re working on a budget, analyzing data, or need to perform quick calculations, subtraction in Excel can be done in just a few clicks.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Subtract in Excel 2016

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand what we’re about to do. Subtracting in Excel involves entering a formula that tells Excel to take one value and subtract another value from it. This can be as simple as subtracting two numbers or as complex as subtracting the sum of a range of cells from another sum.

Step 1: Select the cell where you want the answer to appear

Click on the cell where you want the subtraction result to display.

This step is important because it determines where your calculation will be displayed. It’s like telling Excel, "Hey, put my answer right here!"

Step 2: Type the equals sign (=)

Begin your subtraction formula by typing in the equals sign.

The equals sign is the starting point for any formula in Excel. It’s like saying, "Okay, Excel, I’m about to give you some instructions, so pay attention."

Step 3: Enter the numbers or cell references you want to subtract

Type in the first number or click on the cell that contains it, then type the minus sign (-), and enter the second number or click on the cell containing it.

For example, if you’re subtracting the values in cell A1 and B1, your formula will look like this: =A1-B1. Excel is pretty smart; it knows that the minus sign means you want to subtract.

Step 4: Press Enter

Once you’ve entered your formula, hit the Enter key to execute it.

Voilà! The result of your subtraction will appear in the cell you selected in step 1. Excel does the math for you – no calculator needed.

After completing these steps, you’ll see the result of your subtraction in the cell you selected. It’s that easy! No need to second-guess your math skills; Excel’s got your back.

Tips: Excel 2016 Subtraction

  • Always start your formula with the equals sign (=). It’s non-negotiable in Excel.
  • Make sure to use the minus sign (-) for subtraction. Don’t confuse it with the dash or hyphen.
  • You can subtract multiple numbers at once by continuing to add the minus sign and additional numbers or cell references.
  • Use parentheses to control the order of operations. For example, if you want to subtract the sum of two cells from a third cell, your formula would look like this: =C1-(A1+B1).
  • Double-check your cell references to ensure you’re subtracting the correct values. A simple typo can lead to a big headache.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I subtract multiple numbers in one formula?

Yes, you can subtract multiple numbers or cells by continuing to add the minus sign followed by the number or cell reference.

What if my subtraction result is incorrect?

Double-check your formula for any typos or incorrect cell references. Ensure you’re using the correct minus sign and not a dash or hyphen.

Can I subtract a range of cells from another range?

Yes, you can use the SUM function to add up a range of cells and then subtract one sum from another.

How do I subtract percentages in Excel?

To subtract percentages, convert the percentage to its decimal form (e.g., 25% becomes 0.25) and then subtract as you normally would.

Can I use subtraction in combination with other operations in a formula?

Absolutely! Use parentheses to control the order of operations and combine subtraction with addition, multiplication, and division as needed.


  1. Select the cell for the answer
  2. Type the equals sign (=)
  3. Enter the numbers or cell references to subtract
  4. Press Enter


Subtracting in Excel 2016 is a breeze once you get the hang of it. With the simple steps outlined in this article, you’ll be crunching numbers like a pro in no time. Remember to start with the equals sign, use the minus sign for subtraction, and carefully select your cell references. And don’t forget our handy tips and FAQs to help you avoid common pitfalls and expand your Excel skills. Whether you’re a student, professional, or just someone who loves to stay organized, knowing how to subtract in Excel is a valuable tool in your arsenal. So, go ahead, give it a try, and watch those numbers fall into place. Happy subtracting!

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