Excel Intro:

Title: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101
Did you want Working with Numbers: 2007,2010,2013,2016  or españolIcon: Change web

One of the most common tasks for spreadsheets is to add up numbers. Since the numbers are almost always in a row or column, Excel has a special button Button: AutoSum that makes a guess about what numbers you want to add. When the guess is right, you have saved several steps. When the guess is wrong, you can easily change the cell references in the formula.

Icon: Excel 2003 The AutoSum button in Excel 2002/2003 has a drop list of the most common functions.


AutoSum of a column AutoSum of a row


Where you are:
JegsWorks > Lessons > Numbers

Before you start...

Project 1: Excel Intro
    InterfaceTo subtopics
    Select & Navigate To subtopics
    Common Tasks To subtopics
     footprintChart Wizard
     footprintNumber Formats
    ExercisesTo subtopics

Project 2: Excel BasicsTo subtopics

Project 3: Format & ArrangeTo subtopics

Project 4: Groups & FormulasTo subtopics

Project 5: DesignTo subtopics


Icon Step-by-Step 

Step-by-Step: AutoSum

 Icon Step-by-Step

What you will learn:

to use AutoSum to sum a column
to use AutoSum to sum a row
to change range references in a formula

Start with: budget.xls at Budget sheet from resource files

AutoSum: Column

  1. Select the cell B14, which is blank except for the green fill. We will pretend that this is a good place for some new totals.
  2. Click the AutoSum button.
  3. Excel guesses that you want to add the numbers above the selected cell up to the next blank cell, B6. It surrounds the range B7:B13 with a blinking dashed border. 

    The formula is displayed both in the Formula bar and in the cell. It will overlap other cells if necessary while you are working. 

    TipAll formulas must begin with =, the equals sign.

    WarningWhile the blinking dashed border surrounds the cells, clicking or dragging will change the formula,  using the cell references of the cells you clicked or dragged. It can really foul up your calculations to click without careful thought. Pressing ESC will remove this blinking border and cancel your actions.

  4. Cell B15 selected and AutoSum total in B14 Press ENTER. The sum of the range is displayed in cell B14 instead of the formula. The cell below (B15) is selected instead of B14.
    TipThe selection moves down one cell whenever you use ENTER to register data in a cell.

AutoSum: Drag to change range

If Excel guesses incorrectly, you can change the cell references.

  1. Select cell B14 again and click the AutoSum button.
  2. Drag from B10 to B13 and release the mouse button. The cell references in the formula change.
  3. Notice the popup tip that shows while you are dragging. It says that you have selected a region that is 4 rows high and 1 column wide.

  4. Press ESC to cancel the AutoSum action without accepting the formula. 
  5. Press DELETE to leave cell B14 blank again.

AutoSum: Row

AutoSum works for rows also.

  1. Select cell N7. In the cell you see a number, but in the Formula Bar you see the formula that was used to calculate the number,  =SUM(B7:M7).
  2. Press DELETE to remove this formula.
  3. Click the AutoSum button. Excel guesses that you want to add the values in the cells to the left, with range reference B7:M7. You will probably have to use the horizontal scroll bar to see how far to the left the blinking border extends.

    AutoSum of a row

  4. AutoSum of row - formulaClick the green check mark on the Formula bar. The sum is entered, but cell N7 remains selected. If you had pressed ENTER, the selection would have moved to the cell below.

AutoSum: Type to change range

  1. Select cell N7 again and click the AutoSum button. The formula is shown in the Formula bar.
  2. Click in the Formula bar. You can now change the formula yourself.
  3. Edit the formula to read =SUM(B7:M7,C9:J9, D11:L12) This makes no sense in this case, but we are only practicing.
  4. Click the checkmark button at the left of the Formula Bar. Your formula is accepted and the selection remains in cell N7.

    Colored references to cells and ranges in formula

  5. Click in the Formula bar again. Colors! 

    New for 97 Range finder:  Each range in the formula has a different color. A matching color border surrounds the cells themselves. This can really help you see what is happening.

    TipOnly when you are editing the cell contents will you see these colored references and borders.

  6. Press ENTER to accept this odd formula. The value shows in the cell and your selection moves down one cell.
  7. Click on the Undo button twice to return the formula to the original =SUM(B7:M7)