Easy Way to Auto Sum in an Excel Spreadsheet

Written by paul dohrman
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Easy Way to Auto Sum in an Excel Spreadsheet
(Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

The AutoSum feature in Excel allows you to quickly sum up the values in selected cells. The function works only for data in cells that form a straight line. If they're not in a line, the =SUM() command will work instead. If any cells being summed by AutoSum include text instead of numbers, their contents are ignored.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Select all the cells in a single column or row that you want to sum up, plus the cell in which you want the sum placed. For example, if the data is in cells C1 to C5, and you want the sum placed in C7, then use your mouse pointer to highlight cells C1 through C7.

  2. 2

    Click the AutoSum button in the Standard toolbar. This button has a sigma (?) on it. The sum will appear in the last empty cell in the row or column of cells that you highlighted.

  3. 3

    Sum several rows or columns of data at once by selecting multiple row or columns and blank cells at the end. After clicking the AutoSum button, the sum of each row or column will appear. If you want a grand total, then highlight the column or row of sums, along with a blank cell at the end, and click the AutoSum button again.

Tips and warnings

  • Changing the data in the column or row will change the sum, which will automatically update.
  • AutoSum works only for data that forms a straight line. For example, you can’t sum the cells in A1, A3 and A7 selectively using the AutoSum function. For that, you’d have to use the =SUM() command or highlight the cells individually and look at their sum in the status bar at the bottom of the Excel display. To highlight disjoint cells, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking on each cell successively.

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