How to use the SUM Function and AUTOSUM in Microsoft Excel | Tutorial for Absolute Beginners

Posted on:  04/27/2021
How to use the SUM Function and AUTOSUM in Microsoft Excel | Tutorial for Absolute Beginners

The SUM function is the most popular and widely-used function in Microsoft Excel, along with its automated version: AutoSum. When you click AutoSum, Excel automatically enters a formula (that uses the SUM function) to sum the numbers. In this video, I demonstrate the SUM function and show you a few tips that you may not know, even if you've used the SUM function for a while.

If you need to sum a column or row of numbers, let Excel do the math for you with AutoSum. AutoSum is located on two tabs, the Home tab and the Formulas tab.

AutoSum in Excel

AutoSum in Excel

YouTube video

Video Chapters:

  • 0:00 Intro
  • 0:32 AutoSum
  • 1:15 No numbers in the header
  • 2:23 Select cells and AutoSum
  • 3:15 CTRL to AutoSum ranges
  • 5:20 Chart with AutoSum

SUM Function

When you click AutoSum, Excel automatically enters a formula (that uses the SUM function) to sum the numbers. The SUM function adds numbers.

SUM Function keyboard shortcut

The keyboard shortcut for AutoSum is ALT + =

SUM Function in Excel

SUM Function in Excel

Headers with Numbers

At 1:15 in the video, we look at how to apply AutoSum for a range that has a number in the header row. That might throw off the AutoSum function to add the header row value as well. I show you how to circumvent that and exclude the header row from AutoSum by getting Excel to treat that cell as text.

If you have a header row in row 1, and cell B1 contains the year 2021, when you AutoSum or use the SUM function, it may include cell B1, which you did not intend. You should make B1 text instead of a value. To make B1 text, do one of the following:

  • Type FY2021 in B1. FY is for Fiscal Year
  • Type Year 2021 in B1
  • Use the ' before 2021 to make it text. Example '2021
Number in the header row in Excel

Number in the header row in Excel

Use CTRL to Sum multiple ranges and get a Grand Total in Excel

At 3:15 in the video, I demonstrate how you can create selections across multiple, non-adjacent number ranges and AutoSum everything automatically. Excel is smart enough to figure out that you have multiple ranges selected and AutoSum everything appropriately by taking into consideration the subtotals in your ranges.

Excel - CTRL to sum multiple ranges and get a grand total

Excel - CTRL to sum multiple ranges and get a grand total

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Chris Menard

Chris Menard is a Senior Training Specialist at SurePoint Technologies. Chris is certified in Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Menard has a YouTube channel with other 600 technology videos covering Excel, Word, Zoom, Teams, Outlook, Gmail, Google Calendar, and other resources that over 7 million viewers have very appreciated. Because of Chris's certification and expertise with Microsoft, Chris is a proud member of Microsoft's Creator Team. Being a member of Microsoft's Creator Teams means many of his videos are available on Microsoft 365 YouTube channel and Microsoft support websites.

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