# How to Subtract Multiple Cells in Excel (Easy Method)

Excel is a powerful spreadsheet tool that’s used all around the globe for managing and storing data, performing calculations, and analyzing information.

Out of all the versatility and advanced features that it offers, the ability to perform arithmetic operations is fundamental.

Subtraction, a basic yet crucial arithmetic operation, can be performed in various ways in Excel to suit different needs and scenarios. However, Excel doesn’t offer any inbuilt function (like you might be assuming MINUS or SUBTRACT function) for performing subtraction in Excel 🚀

Nevertheless, you can subtract individual cells, multiple cells, and even entire columns in Excel seamlessly. There are various methods to simplify the process.

This guide will walk you through all such methods that explain how to subtract multiple cells in Microsoft Excel. So download your free practice workbook for this guide now and continue reading with me.

## How to Subtract Multiple Cells in Excel

In Excel, subtraction is performed using the minus sign (-). The basic syntax for subtracting two cells is straightforward.

Click to copy

Substitute A1 and B1 with the relevant cell reference from your sheet 🥽

When it comes to subtracting multiple cells in Excel, there can be various situations. Let’s begin exploring each of these situations in the article below.

## Subtract multiple cells with a minus sign

If you want to subtract a couple of numbers from a given number in Excel, it is as simple as you’d it with a pen and paper 📝

See here.

I have a couple of numbers populated in Column I that are to be subtracted from 100.

Step 1) Activate a cell where you want the difference of these numbers to be populated.

Step 2) Write the following formula:

Click to copy

Step 3) Press the Enter key.

Keep subtracting the numbers one after another with a preceding minus sign.

This formula will subtract the value in B2 from C2, then subtract the value in A3 from the result, then A4, and finally subtract the value in A5 from the result.

This is how you can subtract multiple numbers in Excel by using their cell references 🥂

## Subtract multiple cells with the SUM function

Instead of subtracting multiple cells one after another individually, you can sum all these cells up and then deduct that sum from the main number ➕

Here’s how you can do it:

To subtract the sum of values in A2, A3, A4 and A5 from the value in C2:

Step 1) Write the SUM function as follows:

Click to copy

Step 2) Deduct this SUM from Cell C2 by writing it as the following formula:

Click to copy

The answer remains the same. This method is more convenient as it saves you the need to club multiple cell references within a formula.

Just sum all the numbers up and deduct it in one go.

## Sum up all negative numbers

This method will work for you if the numbers that you want to deduct are already written with a minus sign. Like here:

The number from which these numbers are to be deducted is positive, whereas, the numbers to be deducted are written with a minus sign ➖

Step 1) Write the SUM function to add these all up like here:

Click to copy

You can also go to the destination cell (where the difference of these cells is to be populated) and press the Equal Sign key + the Alt key. This shortcut key launches the SUM function, selects the cells to be summed and press Enter.

Step 2) Press the Enter key.

There you get the difference between the positive and negative numbers in a single go.

This is a very easy method if you have the numbers to be deducted written with a minus sign (negative values) 💡

## Subtract a single cell from multiple cells with Paste Special

If you want to subtract a single cell’s value from multiple cells without typing a formula for each cell, you can use the Paste Special feature:

For example, I want to deduct 5 from all the numbers in Column I 🖌

The Paste Special feature of Excel makes it a piece of cake.

Step 1) Copy the cell containing the value you want to subtract (i.e., C2).

Step 2) Select the range of cells you from where you want to subtract this number from (i.e., A2:A5)

Step 3) Right-click the selected range to launch the context menu.

Step 4) From the context menu, click on Paste Special.

Step 5) From the Paste Special dialog box, check the “Subtract” option.

Step 6) Click okay.

Excel will subtract the value in the copied cell from each cell in the selected range.

The best part about this method is that the subtraction operation is done within the same cells where the values originally lie 🤩

Another way to do this could be by usingabsolute references. Check these steps out.

An absolute reference in Excel ensures that a cell reference remains constant when copying a formula to another cell. This helps to subtract the same value from multiple cells by dragging the same formula down.

To subtract the value in cell C2 from each cell in the range A2:A5:

Step 1) Activate the cell where you want the difference of these numbers populated.

Step 2) Write the following formula in this cell.

Click to copy

Step 3) Keep the cursor on the cell reference C4 and press the F4 key to convert it into an absolute reference.

Click to copy

Step 4) Press Enter to calculate the difference.

Step 5) Drag this formula down the list to subtract this number from all the numbers in Column I.

As the formula is dragged down, cell C2 is deducted from each number in Column I. Excel didn’t change the cell references as the formula is dragged 🎭

This is how you can subtract the same cell from multiple cells.

## Subtract columns in Excel

In a situation like presented in the below image:

Where you have to subtract the values in one column from the values in another column, you can use a simple formula and copy it down the column 👇

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1) Write the following formula in the first cell.

Click to copy

Step 2) Drag the fill handle down the column to drag the formula to the coming rows.

This is how you can subtract one column from another by writing a single formula and then dragging it down the column.

## Conclusion

Subtraction, which is otherwise a simple operation, might get a little tacky when you have multiple cells before you incorporate them within a single operation.

In this article, we have uncovered various situations of subtracting multiple cells in Excel. From basic subtraction of individual cells to more complex operations involving multiple cells, columns, and the Paste Special feature. Using these features, you can perform more sophisticated calculations with ease ✅

Below are some other similar MS Excel tutorials by Spreadsheeto that are excellent guides on subtraction and related operation in Excel. Check them out here.