How to Square Root in Excel

Written by co-founder Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist.

Finding the square root of a number in Excel is still a mystery to some Excel users. 

The truth is, there is more than 1 way you can square root any number in Excel.

However, using the radical symbol in the formula bar is not one of them. In fact, using the square root symbol in a formula has no effect whatsoever.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to square root any number in Excel. As a bonus, we’ll also show you what key combinations you’ll have to press to insert the square root symbol.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Let’s get started! 🔍

*This tutorial is for Excel 2019 for Windows. Got a different version? No problem, you can still follow the exact same steps.

What is a square root?

The square root of a number x is a number y that when multiplied by itself, results in that number x.

Sounds confusing? 😊 

Let’s use an example:

The square root of 9 is 3. When you multiply 3 by 3, the answer is 9.

When written in a formulaic structure, the square root is represented by the radical (√) symbol

√9 = 3

As you can see, the number which we would like to get the square root of is written under a radical symbol. This causes the number whose square root is being computed to be called as “radicand”.

It’s important to know how to square root in Excel especially if you’re in the field of architecture, engineering, and statistics.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Where is the square root symbol?

When writing equations with square root, the square root is written using the radical (√) symbol.

Unfortunately, there’s no specific key for it in your keyboard.

If you would like to write the square root symbol in Excel, you have to press ‘Alt’ + ‘251’.

Alternately, you can also use the insert symbol feature in Excel.

Just go to the ‘Insert’ tab from the tab list.

insert tab on microsoft excel 2019 tab list

Then, press the ‘Symbol’ icon under the ‘Symbols’ group.

On the dialogue box, choose ‘Mathematical Operators’ on ‘Subset’ and find the square root symbol

Once you do, press ‘Insert’ and voila!

the square root symbol under the mathematical operators subset

Take note, however, that you can’t use the radical symbol in Excel the same way you can use the asterisk (*) or the caret (^) symbol in an equation.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

The square root symbol, when entered in a formula bar in Excel, is simply a character. It can’t be used as an operator.

If you would like to square root a number in Excel, you have to use the ‘SQRT’ function.

Of course, there are other alternative ways of computing the square root in Excel. However, the ‘SQRT’ function is the fastest way to do.

Get your FREE exercise file

Before you start:

Throughout this guide, you need a data set to practice.

I’ve included one for you (for free).

Download it right below!

Download the FREE Exercise File

Download exercise file
Download free exercise file

How to use the ‘SQRT’ function

The ‘SQRT’ function is the resident square root function in Excel. 

Basically, it returns the square root of any positive number. If you use a negative number as radicand, you’ll get an error.

Here’s the syntax of the ‘SQRT’ function:

=SQRT (number)

Let’s use this on the following dataset:

dataset for the square root exercise

To find the square root, all you have to do is enter the number value or cell reference on the ‘number’ parameter:

Using the ‘POWER’ function for square root

As stated earlier, there are other ways to compute the square root.

One of them is through the ‘POWER’ function.

From the name itself, this function is Excel’s exponent function.

It’s syntax is:

=POWER (number, power)

Parameters:

  • ‘number’ – the base number
  • ‘power’ – the exponent

The trick is to use “0.5” as the exponent and simply supply the number value or cell reference on the ‘number’ parameter.

Using the ‘POWER’ function, we’ll get the same exact results as the previous section:

Using an exponent formula for square root

Lastly, you can also use an exponent formula to get the square root of any number.

This method is simple:

Use the caret (^) symbol in an equation like how you use the asterisk (*) symbol for multiplication or the forward-slash (/) for division.

Naturally, you’ll also have to use “0.5” as the exponent.

From that, you’ll have an exponent formula similar to this one:

= number ^ 0.5

Like the previous methods, we’ll get the correct results using this method:

using an exponent formula to find the square root

Wrapping things up…

As you can see, finding the square root of a number is easy. You can either use a function or an exponent formula. What’s important is that you know how to calculate the square root of any number in Excel.

Feel free to download the exercise file of this tutorial. It contains the same dataset as in the images of this article. That way, you can follow the methods above step-by-step. 😊

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto
2019-10-15T13:05:46+00:00