7 Best Ways To Sum a Column in Microsoft Excel

Wondering how to sum a column in Excel?

Do you need to sum a column with thousands of rows? Or could it be a collection of columns or filtered rows in a column? Read on to find the best answers!

Microsoft Excel offers many ways to add up values in the rows of a column as a total or subtotal. These methods suit different summation needs. Often, you want a quick sum of the entire column or multiple columns.

Sometimes, you might want to sum a column by filtering its values or by entering conditions in the formula to exclude or include values by text or numbers.

It’s easy to get distracted with all these summation methods in Excel. So, I’m compiling below the most commonly used methods you’ll always need at school, work, or home.

What Is Sum in Excel?

When you sum in Excel you use the addition (+) operator for a range of cells in one column, multiple columns, or rows. It involves the SUM, SUMIF, or the SUBTOTAL function in Excel. However, there’s also an Excel user interface command button you can use, known as AutoSum.

When you use the functions, you can add complex conditions too. For example, sum up Joe’s sales figures in a large list of sales data in a worksheet. Or, sum values that are above $1,000 in a column in Excel.

Reasons to Sum a Column in Excel

The primary reason to sum a column in Excel is to get a total of the values in the rows of the column. However, you could need to achieve this in different scenarios and ways as outlined below:

  • Summing columns is often a crucial step in data analysis. It helps in gaining insights into the overall trends or patterns present in the dataset.
  • For budgeting purposes, summing a column of expenses or income can provide a quick overview of your financial situation.
  • Summing is a fundamental operation in statistical analysis.
  • By summing a column in Excel you can identify errors in your data.
  • When working with multiple sheets or tables, summing columns is essential for consolidating data.
  • Summing columns is valuable when creating forecasts.
  • You want to sum rows in a column in Excel by conditions like sum all values for a text string Joe or sum all values above a figure.

Whatever the reason may be, the following methods to get the sum of a column in Excel will come in handy in your Excel journey:

Sum a Column in One Click

Often, you need a quick view of the sum of one or many columns in Excel. You can do that using the Excel status bar.

Select column
Select column

Click on the column letter, for example, D, at the top of the source column.

Sum in excel status bar
Sum in Excel status bar

Then, check the SUM value displayed in the Excel status bar. I pointed it out in the above image.

Sum of multiple columns
Sum of multiple columns

To sum up multiple columns in Excel, highlight all the columns or cell ranges up to which data exists. Then, look at the SUM value in the Excel status bar.

Now, if the status bar doesn’t show the SUM, you likely haven’t yet added the feature. That’s okay!

Sum option in status bar
Sum option in the status bar

Right-click on the Excel status bar. From the context menu that shows up, checkmark the Sum option.

Using the AutoSum Command

Though you can quickly visualize the sum of a column on the Excel status bar, you need to manually enter it on the worksheet. This can be tedious and error-prone when working on a workbook with many worksheets.

When you need to calculate the sum and enter the value in the worksheet, you can use AutoSum in Excel.

Selecting column up to last value
Selecting the column up to the last value

Highlight the first cell of the column. Press Ctrl + Shift + Down Arrow to select all the values in the column.

Now, go to Home > Editing and click on the AutoSum button. Excel will instantly populate the summation value just below the last number in the selected column.

AutoSum With Sort & Filter

Suppose you need to apply the Sort & Filter to a dataset in your Excel worksheet. Here, you can use AutoSum to calculate the values only for the filtered dataset and not the filtered-out values.

Excel sort & filter
Excel sort & filter

Firstly, highlight the column headers of the dataset and click on the Filter option of the Sort & Filter menu in the Editing block on the Home tab.

Filter applied in dataset
Filter applied in the dataset

When the Sort & Filter is active on the dataset, click on a column header drop-down arrow and apply the filter of your choice.

Using AutoSum in filtered column
Using AutoSum in the filtered column

Now that the dataset has been filtered, highlight the dataset of the target column and click on the AutoSum command to get the SUM value.

AutoSum for Multiple Columns

Selecting all columns in Excel
Selecting all columns in Excel

Highlight multiple columns on the worksheet using key combinations Ctrl + Shift + Right Arrow (highlights all cells to the right from the current selection) and Ctrl + Shift + Down Arrow (selects all cells downwards from the selected cell).

Multiple column autosum
Multiple column AutoSum

Now, click the AutoSum command button on the Excel ribbon menu to populate column totals below the last number of each column.

Keyboard Shortcuts for AutoSum

Using shortcuts for AutoSum
Using shortcuts for AutoSum

Highlight the cell just below the last value in the column and press any of the following shortcuts to apply the AutoSum command to the column:

Alt + Equal or

Alt + H + U + S

After pressing any of the above key combinations, the SUM formula will populate in the selected cell automatically. You must press Enter to calculate the sum.

Using the SUM Function

So far, you’ve explored the automatic ways to implement additions in Excel. Now, you’ll learn how to get the sum of a column in Excel using the manual method.

The most common manual method is the SUM function.

SUM function
SUM function

To use SUM, you need to highlight a cell in the worksheet. Then, enter the following formula syntax:

=SUM()
Using SUM in Excel
Using SUM in Excel

Within the parentheses, you must enter the cell reference for summation. For example, D2 to D8. Hit Enter to get the sum value.

Summing Up the Entire Column

For instance, you need to sum up a column that has thousands of rows. You don’t want to scroll down all the way to the last row of this column and yet want to calculate the sum.

You can do it using the SUM function along with the entire column address, like D:D in Excel.

Using entire column SUM
Using the entire column SUM

Highlight a cell anywhere else on the worksheet except for the target column for which you need to calculate SUM. In this tutorial, I’m summing up column D.

Enter the following formula in the selected cell:

=SUM(D:D)
Using SUM for entire column
Using SUM for the entire column

Now, hit Enter to calculate a sum for the entire column D. Don’t forget to change the column reference according to your own worksheet, like B:B for column B, C:C for column C, and so on.

Summing Up Multiple Columns

To insert more than one column in your SUM function, you can enter entire column references separated with commas as shown in the above image.

Here’s the formula you can use:

=SUM(B:B,D:D)

Using an Excel Table

When you convert your dataset to a table in your worksheet, Excel calculates the sum automatically in the Total Row below the table.

Creating excel table
Creating Excel table

To use this method, highlight the dataset and press Ctrl + T. Also, click OK on the Create Table dialog to apply the Excel table formatting.

Total row in Excel table
Total row in Excel table

Go to the Table Design tab on the Excel ribbon and checkmark the Total Row checkbox of the Table Style Options command block. Excel will automatically calculate the total for the most logical column of the dataset.

Enabling sum in total row
Enabling sum in the total row

Now, if you need to calculate the sum of other columns in the table, highlight the empty cell below the last value of the selected column. Click on the drop-down arrow and choose SUM from the context menu.

Sum a Column Using Named Ranges

You can also use the Define Name feature of Excel to create Named Ranges in your Excel worksheet for columns to cell ranges.

Then, you can use the SUM function and refer to the name of the cell range or column to get the sum in Excel.

Defined names in Formulas
Defined names in Formulas

To define a name, highlight the column on your worksheet. Then, go to the Defined Names commands block in the Formulas tab.

New name dialog in excel
New name dialog in Excel

Now, click on the Define Name button to find the New Name dialog. There, enter a name that you’ll remember for the selected column. Click OK to apply the name.

Using named range with SUM
Using named range with SUM

Now, go to any blank cell in the workbook. Enter the following SUM formula to calculate the sum for the named range:

=SUM(PC_hardware_total)
Getting SUM of named range
Getting SUM of named range

Hit Enter to get the results.

Using the SUMIF Function

All the methods explained until now, to sum up a column in Excel consider all the values in the selected columns. Suppose you need to sum only specific values from the selected column.

The selection could be in the following ways:

  • Sum values based on text or numbers in another column
  • Sum values based on numbers in the same column
Selective sum using text strings
Selective sum using text strings

For instance, I only need to sum the cost for Conveyor Systems Dematic in column C for all the sites in the above dataset.

So, I used the following SUMIF formula to selectively sum in a column in Excel:

=SUMIF(A2:A13,"*conveyor*",C2:C13)

To modify the above formula, you can replace the following:

  • The reference cell range or column address: A2:A13
  • The reference text string *conveyor* within single quotes
  • The target cell range or column: C2:C13
Selective sum using numbers
Selective sum using numbers

Now, I also need to sum the machinery expenses in sites that cost more than $200,000. To do so, I can use the following formula:

=SUMIF(C2:C13,">200000",C2:C13)

Don’t forget to personalize the formula when you use it in your worksheet.

Sum a Column Using Excel VBA

Do you like to automate Excel calculations using Excel VBA? Then, you’ll be delighted to use this method.

Entering column letter
Entering column letter

The following Excel VBA Macro shows a dialog box to enter the column letter. When you hit the OK button on the dialog, Excel populates the sum for the selected column just below the last value.

Entering another column
Entering another column

You can keep entering as many column letters as you want. When you’re done, hit the Cancel button to stop running the VBA Macro.

Sub SumColumns()
    Dim columnLetter As String
    Dim lastRow As Long
    Dim sumValue As Double

    ' Loop until the user cancels the process
    Do While True
        ' Show input box to get the column letter
        columnLetter = InputBox("Enter the column letter:", "Column Sum")

        ' Check if the user clicked cancel
        If columnLetter = "" Then
            Exit Sub
        End If

        ' Convert column letter to column number
        Dim columnNumber As Long
        columnNumber = Columns(columnLetter).Column

        ' Find the last used row in the specified column
        lastRow = Cells(Rows.Count, columnNumber).End(xlUp).Row

        ' Calculate the sum for the column
        sumValue = Application.WorksheetFunction.Sum(Range(columnLetter & "2:" & columnLetter & lastRow))

        ' Place the sum value just below the last value in the column
        Cells(lastRow + 1, columnNumber).Value = sumValue
    Loop
End Sub

You can use the above script as is without any customizations.

To learn how to use this Excel VBA script in your worksheet, check out this excellent article:

How To Use The VBA Code You Find Online

Conclusions

Now you know the advanced tools, functions, and the perfect way to use these to sum a column in Excel. The next time you need to sum up a column in Excel, you don’t need to create a manual formula using the addition operator. Instead, you can use the smart methods shown in this article to impress your teacher, employer, or client.

Did the article help? Do you know how to get a sum in an Excel column using a method that I missed? Leave your valuable comments and feedback below!

About the Author

John MacDougall

John MacDougall

John is a Microsoft MVP and qualified actuary with over 15 years of experience. He has worked in a variety of industries, including insurance, ad tech, and most recently Power Platform consulting. He is a keen problem solver and has a passion for using technology to make businesses more efficient.

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