1. Computing

How to Quickly Sum Columns or Rows of Numbers in Google Spreadsheets


Google Spreadsheets SUM Function
Google Spreadsheets SUM Function

Google Spreadsheets SUM Function

© Ted French

Google Spreadsheets SUM Function Overview

Adding up rows or columns of numbers is one of the most common operations carried out in all spreadsheet programs.

To make it easier to accomplish this task, Google Spreadsheets includes a built in formula called the SUM function.

One nice feature is that if the data being summed is changed or numbers added to blank cells in the range, the total automatically updates to include the new data.

The function ignores text data - such as headings and labels - in the selected range.

The SUM Function's Syntax

A function's syntax refers to the layout of the function and includes the function's name, brackets, and arguments.

The syntax for the SUM function is:

=SUM (number_1,number_2,...number_30)

Up to 30 numbers can be summed by the function.

The SUM Function's Arguments

number_1, number_2,...number_30 - the data to be added up

The arguments can contain:

  • a list of numbers to be summed
  • a list of cell references indicating the location of the data in the worksheet
  • a range of cell references to the location of the data

Example: Add a Column of Numbers Using the SUM Function

As shown in the image above, this example will enter the cell references to a range of data to be totaled the SUM function. The range selected includes text and blank cells - both of which are ignored by the function.

Next, numbers will be added to those cells that are blank cell or contain text. The total for the range will automatically update to include the new data.

Entering the Tutorial Data

  1. Enter the following data into cells A1 to A6: 114, 165, 178, text

  2. Leave cell A5 blank

  3. Enter the following data into cell A6: 165

Entering the SUM Function

  1. Click on cell A7 - the location where the results of the function will be displayed

  2. Click on Insert > Functions > SUM in the menus to insert the SUM function into cell A7

  3. Highlight cells A1 and A6 to enter this range of data as the function's argument

  4. Press the ENTER key on the keyboard

  5. The number 622 should appear in the cell A7, which is the total for the numbers entered into cells A1 to A6

Updating the SUM Function

  1. Type the number 200 into cell A5 and press the Enter key on the keyboard

  2. The answer 622 in cell A7 should update to 822

  3. Replace the text data in cell A4 with the number 100 and press the Enter key on the keyboard

  4. The answer in A7 should update to 922

  5. Click on cell A7 and the complete function = SUM (A1 : A6) appears in the formula bar above the worksheet

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