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SUM Function

Sums up cells that are supplied as multiple arguments

What is the SUM Function?

The SUM function is categorized under Math and Trigonometry functions. The function will sum up cells that are supplied as multiple arguments. It is the most popular and widely used function in Excel.

SUM helps users perform a quick summation of specified cells in MS Excel. For example, we are given the cost of 100 items bought for an event. We can use the function to find out the total cost of the event.

 

Formula

=SUM(number1, [number2], [number3]……)

 

The SUM function uses the following arguments:

  1. Number1 (required argument) – It is the first item that we wish to sum.
  2. Number2 (required argument) – It is the second item that we wish to sum.
  3. Number3 (optional argument) – It is the third item that we wish to sum.

 

The function sums values supplied as arguments (up to 255 arguments). Arguments can be supplied as numbers, cell references, ranges, arrays, constants, and the results of other formulas or functions.

 

How to use the SUM Function in Excel?

To understand the uses of the SUM function, let’s consider a few examples:

 

Example 1

Suppose we are given the following data:

 

SUM Function

 

We wish to find out the total sales for the first six months. The formula to be used is:

 

SUM Function - Example 1

 

We get the result below:

 SUM Function - Example 1a

 

Example 2

Generally, the SUM function is used as part of bigger formulas used in complex calculations. Suppose we are given the following data:

 

SUM Function - Example 2

 

As seen above, there is missing information in the data. In such case, we can use the SUM function along with IF function to show a warning message. The formula to be used is:

 

SUM Function - Example 2a

 

We get the result below:

 

SUM Function - Example 2b

 

Things to remember about the SUM Function

  1. #VALUE! error – Occurs when the criteria provided is a text string that is more than 255 characters long.
  2. The easiest way to apply the function is to use We can simply select a cell next to the numbers that we wish to add and click on AutoSum on the Home tab. We can then press the Enter key and the SUM formula is automatically inserted.

 

SUM Function - Notes 1

 

We can also find AutoSum in the Formulas tab:

 

SUM Function - Example 1a

 

The AutoSum feature not only enters a SUM formula but also selects the most likely range of cells that we wish to add up.

 

Click here to download the sample Excel file

 

Additional resources

Thanks for reading CFI’s guide to important Excel functions! By taking the time to learn and master these functions, you’ll significantly speed up your financial analysis. To learn more, check out these additional resources:

  • Excel Functions for Finance
  • Advanced Excel Formulas Course
  • Advanced Excel Formulas You Must Know
  • Excel Shortcuts for PC and Mac

Free Excel Tutorial

To master the art of Excel, check out CFI’s FREE Excel Crash Course, which teaches you how to become an Excel power user.  Learn the most important formulas, functions, and shortcuts to become confident in your financial analysis.

 

Launch CFI’s Free Excel Course now to take your career to the next level and move up the ladder!