Use the autosum formula in Excel to save time with financial modeling

What is the Autosum Excel function?

The Autosum Excel function can be accessed by typing ALT + the = sign in a spreadsheet and it will automatically create a formula to sum all the numbers in a continuous range.  This function is a great way to speeding up your financial analysis.  It allows you to easily add up a series of numbers either vertically or horizontally without having to use the mouse or even the arrow keys on the keyboard!

For a financial analyst performing calculations all day long, even a small increase in speed for one function can add up to a lot of time saved over the course a day, week, or even year.

In industries like investment banking, keyboard shortcuts are critical, and analysts are expected to know them all by heart (see our guide on how to get a job in investment banking).


How Autosum works

The Autosum shortcut is very simple, just type two keys:


Step 1: place the cursor below the column of numbers you want to sum (or to the left of the row of numbers you want to sum).

Step 2: hold down the Alt key and then press the equals = sign while still holding Alt.

Step 3: press Enter.


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Example of the Autosum Excel function

Here are two screenshots of the auto sum shortcut in action.

The first example shows the Autosum formula being used in a vertical series of numbers, and the second example shows the formula on a horizontal series of numbers.

It’s important to place your cursor in the correct place before pressing “Alt =”.

See Excel screenshots example below:


Autosum Excel function



Autosum Excel Example


More Excel guides

Thank you for reading this guide to using the Autosum Excel shortcut to speed up your financial analyst work in your work in spreadsheets.  To keep learning and advancing your career CFI highly recommends these additional resources: