There are various arithmetic functions that you can execute in Excel, including addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. And subtraction is one of the basic arithmetic operations that you’ll use every day when you’re managing numbers in a spreadsheet.

Excel has an inbuilt formula for subtraction or minus to subtract two values from each other. In this post, we’ll show you how to subtract numbers in Excel.

Subtracting in Excel

Most of the subtraction in Excel is done with ‘-‘ and ‘=’ operators. You can subtract numbers with a cell, numbers in two cells, and numbers in multiple cells.

Subtracting Numbers in a Cell

Use the below mentioned basic subtraction formula when you are subtracting numbers within a cell. Start the formula with an equal sign (=) and add the ‘-‘ sign between two numbers.


For example, when we type, =73-23 in cell E2 and press ‘Enter’, it automatically subtracts the numbers and adds ’50’ in the cell.

Subtracting Between Cells

You can subtract numbers in two different cells using their cell references instead of the cell value. The basic formula for subtracting cells in Excel is:


In the below example, the formula in cell C1 subtracts the value in B2 from the value in A1.

Subtracting Columns in Excel

Next, to subtract column B from column A, apply the above formula to the entire column C. To do that, click on the tiny green square (fill handle) at the lower right corner of cell C1 and drag it down to cell C6.

Now Column B is subtracted from Column A and the value is stored in Column C.

To subtract multiple cells, apply the following formula.

Subtracting Multiple Cells using SUM Function

As you can imagine, if you’re going to subtract the entire column this formula can get quite long. To shorten your formula, simply use the SUM function. This function adds up the numbers in A2:A6 and then subtracts that sum from the value in cell A1.

Subtracting the Same Number from a Column of Numbers in Excel

To subtract the same number from a range of cells, fix the reference to the cell by adding the ‘$’ symbol in front of the column letter and row number. This way, you can lock that cell reference so it won’t change no matter where the formula is copied.

For example, we created an absolute cell reference by placing a dollar ‘$’ symbol in front of the column letter and row number of cell B8 ($B$8). Then, we subtract the value in cell B8 from the value in cell B1 using the below formula.

Next, select cell C1 and click on the tiny square (fill handle) at the lower right corner of cell C1, and drag it down to cell C6. Now the formula is applied to all the rows and the same number in B8 is subtracted from the column (B1:B6).

Now, you can do the same above operation without a formula. To do that, right-click on cell D1 and copy (or press CTRL + c).

Next, select the cell range A1:A6 and then right-click, and click ‘Paste Special’.

Select ‘Subtract’ under ‘Operations’ and click ‘OK’ button.

Now the cell D1 value is subtracted from a column of numbers (A1:A6).

There you go, these are the different ways you can subtract in Excel.