How to subtract in Google Sheets

Subtraction is one of the four basic operations of mathematics. In Google Sheets, you can use subtraction alone or in combination with other functions to create complex formulas. There is no special function for subtraction in Google Sheets. To subtract two numbers, you can simply use the minus sign (-).

In addition to subtracting numbers, you can also subtract cell values ​​by referencing them in the formula bar. Also, you can sequentially subtract a group of numbers and even subtract matrices. You can perform all of these tasks by using the minus sign (-) in Google Sheets.

Like subtraction in Excel, there is no subtraction function in Google Sheets. You can subtract numbers in Google Sheets in the same way as on paper. Except this time you don’t have to do the math yourself. Google Sheets takes care of it!

Let’s start by subtracting two numbers:

  1. Select the cell where you want to display the result of the subtraction.
  2. Go to the formula bar and type an equal (=). This will start your formula.
  3. Enter the number you want to subtract.
  4. Enter the minus sign ().
  5. Now add the number you want to subtract. Your final formula should look like the formula below:
     =256-140< 
  6. pressure Come in.

Google Sheets subtracts the second number in the formula from the first and displays the result.

Instead of manually entering numbers into your subtraction formula, you can refer to the cells that contain the numbers and subtract them.

Two cells await subtraction in Google Sheets

In this example spreadsheet, we have the number of initial volunteers for an experiment and the number of volunteers who drop out. The goal is to calculate the number of current volunteers.

  1. Select the cell where you want to display the calculation results. This will be the cell B3 in this example.
  2. Go to the formula bar and enter the formula below:
     =B1-B2​​​​ 
  3. pressure Come in.
Subtract two cells in Google Sheets

The formula will subtract the number B2 (resigning volunteers) from the number i B1 (initial volunteers) and show the number of current volunteers.

You can also subtract multiple numbers in a single formula. There are many ways to do this, but we'll look at two of the easiest methods: sequential subtraction and the SUM function.

Column of numbers in Google Sheets waiting for subtraction

We will implement both methods in continuation of the previous example. Here we have a spreadsheet with the number of initial volunteers, as well as the volunteers who resign each month.

The goal is to calculate the number of current volunteers by subtracting the number of retiring volunteers from the original number of volunteers.

Sequential subtraction

In this method, we start from the cell we want to subtract from, and then add the cells we want to subtract from to the cell with a minus sign () between each cell reference.

  1. Select the cell where you want to display the final result. This will be the cell B8 for the current example.
  2. Enter the formula below in the formula bar:
     =B1-B2-B3-B4-B5-B6-B7 
  3. pressure Come in. You can now see the number of current volunteers.
Subtract multiple numbers in Google Sheets

This formula allows us to subtract B2 of B1then subtract B3 from the remainder of the previous subtraction. It continues until B7 is subtracted from the remainder of all previous subtractions, giving us the number of present volunteers.

Subtraction with the SUM function

Although sequential subtraction gets the job done, entering cell references one by one is still a chore. After all, isn't Google Sheets all about making things easier?

This is where the SUM function comes into play. This feature allows you to sum numbers and cells in Google Sheets.

 =SUM(value1, value2, value3, ...) 

The values ​​you enter can be numbers or cells that contain numbers. SUM only works with numeric values.

To subtract multiple cells in Google Sheets, you can sum all the subtractions using the SUM function and then subtract them from the original number. In this method, we will use the SUM function to obtain the results of the previous example without having to consult the cells one by one:

  1. Select the cell where you want to display the result of the subtraction. As before, we will use the cell B8.
  2. Enter the formula below in the formula bar:
     =B1-SUM(B2:B7) 
  3. pressure Come in.
Subtract multiple numbers using the SUM function in Google Sheets

This formula uses the SUM function to add up all the resigned volunteers (B2 on B7) together, then it subtracts the total number of volunteers who quit from the original volunteers. The resulting number will be the number of current volunteers.

An array is basically an array of numbers placed in a table. You can perform basic math operations on matrices in Google Sheets, and you can easily subtract one matrix from another.

Remember that to subtract matrices, both matrices must have the same structure. This means that if your first matrix is ​​a 3x3 matrix, then the second matrix and the third matrix (where you want to display the results of the subtraction) must also be 3x3.

Since arrays are arrays in Google Sheets, you must write an array formula to use them. An array is a structure that contains multiple values, and an array formula tells Google Sheets to treat those values ​​as an array, not as individual values. Although the name might sound a little scary, the matrix formula is simple in this case.

Two matrices await subtraction in Google Sheets

In this example we have three 3×3 matrices. The goal is to subtract Matrix 2 from Matrix 1 and display the results in Matrix 3. Here's how:

  1. Select the first cell in the matrix where you want to display the results of the subtraction. In this example, matrix 3 starts at E5and then we choose E5.
  2. Go to the formula bar. There are two paths you can take from here:
    1. Enter the formula below in the formula bar and press CTRL + Move + Come in:
       =(A2:C4)-(A7:C9) 
    2. Enter the formula below in the formula bar and press Come in:
       =ArrayFormula((A2:C4)-(A7:C9)) 
Subtraction of two matrices in Google Sheets

Whichever path is taken, the final formula and result is the same. The basic formula selects matrix 2 (A7 on C9), it subtracts from matrix 1 (A2 on C4), then displays the results of the subtraction in matrix 3.

The difference between the two methods is that in the first method we only typed the basic formula and then pressed CTRL + Move + Come in rather than Come in alone. This combination tells Google Sheets that it's an array, and Google Sheets automatically puts the formula in an ArrayFormula function.

In the second method, we entered the ArrayFormula function manually so Google Sheets didn't need it. Since the ArrayFormula is already present, there is no need to use the function CTRL + Move + Come in combo and a solitaire Enter would be sufficient.

Subtraction made easy with Google Sheets

Subtraction is one of the four basic mathematical operations, and you can subtract numbers, cells, and even matrices using Google Sheets. Although subtraction is simple at its core, you can still combine it with other Google Sheets features to create complex formulas that make your calculations much easier.

Google Sheets is bliss and has the potential to make life much easier for anyone who deals with numbers. The great thing about Sheets is that just when you think it can't make math easier, it surprises you and shows you that it can.

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