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How to Subtract in Google Sheets (The Easy Way!)

7 Minutes

Being able to subtract numbers in Google Sheets is one of the most basic but one of the most important spreadsheet calculations. In this article we will show you exactly how to subtract in google sheets using the minus sign (-) and the MINUS function along with sample formulas and examples.

How to Subtract in Google Sheets Using the Minus Sign 

The minus sign (-) in Google Sheets can be used to subtract individual numbers but we can also use the SUM function to deduct numbers from a range as well. In this example we will use a created dataset to demonstrate exactly how we will perform this by utilizing subtract to find the total amount of each item. We will then apply a further subtraction to a range of data. Click here to view the dataset and follow along.

Example 1 - Using the Minus Sign Operator in Google Sheets

Step 1: Select an empty cell

In the dataset select the empty cell next to the two amounts to subtract.

Subtract cells in Google Sheets: Cell selection

Step 2: Input the formula using the minus sign (-)

In the empty cell deduct the second amount from the first by entering the formula:

=Value1 - Value2

 

Formula Breakdown:

Value1: This is the value that Value2 will be deducted from and can be a target cell reference or numerical value.

- : The minus sign is used in Google Sheets to subtract

Value2: This will be the value deducted from Value1 and can be a target cell reference or numerical value.

In this example we will specify the cell target references by entering:

=C4-D4

Subtract cells in Google Sheets - Using cell targets

Alternatively we can manually input the numerical amounts into the formula:

=35-3.5

Subtract cells in Google Sheets - Using numerical values

Step 3: Press enter to see the results

Press enter and the formula will deduct the second value from the first and the selected cell will be populated with the results.

Subtract cells in Google Sheets - Results

Example 2 - Using the the minus sign on a range

We will now use the SUM function along with the minus(-) sign in Google Sheets to deduct the additional coupon discount from the overall total range.

Step 1: Select an empty cell

In the dataset select the empty cell where the new total will be populated.

Subtract cells in Google Sheets - Deducting from a range

Step 2: Input the formula using SUM

Input the following formula:

=SUM(Target Range) - Value

Formula Breakdown:

=SUM: This calls the SUM function in Google Sheets

Target Range: This is a cell range and will be totaled in this equation

- : This is the operator used to subtract

 

Value: The amount to be deducted from the target range

 

In this example or formula will be:

=SUM(E4:E6)-B9

Subtract cells in Google Sheets - Deducting from a range: Inputting the formula

Step 3: Press enter to see the results

Subtract cells in Google Sheets - Deducting from a range: Show results

How to Subtract in Google Sheets using the MINUS function

Google Sheets has a function specifically for subtraction. This function can be used for individual numbers and target cells alike.

The syntax for the MINUS function in Google Sheets is:

=MINUS (Value1, Value2)

Syntax Breakdown:

=MINUS: This is the MINUS function in Google Sheets and used for subtracting the specified values

Value1: This will be the amount Value2 will be deducted from, this can be a cell target or an individual number.

Value2: This will be deducted from Value1

 

We will now use the MINUS function in our example dataset, this can be accessed by clicking here:

Step 1: Select an empty cell

In the dataset select an empty cell, be sure to select a cell next to the amounts to be subtracted:

Subtract cells in Google Sheets - Using the MINUS function

Step 2: Input the MINUS function

In the empty cell enter the MINUS function as:

=MINUS (Value1, Value2)

Formula Breakdown:

=MINUS: The function called so Google Sheets knows to deduct the following values

Value1: This will be the amount Value2 will be deducted from, this can be a cell reference or individual number. In our example it will be: C4

Value2: This will be the amount deducted from Value1 and can be a cell reference or individual number. In our example it will be: D4

For our example the MINUS function formula will be:

=MINUS(C4,D4)

Subtract cells in Google Sheets - Using the MINUS function: Formula using cell references

In Google Sheets We can also choose to input the numerical values in the formula instead of cell references:

Subtract cells in Google Sheets - Using the MINUS function: Formula using numerical values

Step 3: Press enter to see the results

With the formula inserted select enter to see the results.

Subtract cells in Google Sheets - Using the MINUS function: Results

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