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Adding Up Tops and Bottoms

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Adding Up Tops and Bottoms.

As you are collecting data for your Excel project, you may have a need to add up the top N number of values in a range or the bottom N number of values. For instance, you may be keeping track of golfing scores and need to add up only the top three scores or the bottom three scores out of a series of scores.

As with most any Excel problem, there are several ways you can go about implementing a solution. For instance, you could sort the scores so that they are in ascending or descending order. You would then have the top or bottom scores in a set place where you could always sum them.

There is an easier way, however. You can use the LARGE and SMALL functions, which do the job very nicely. For instance, say you have the scores in cells C5 through C25. All you need to do is put the following formula in a cell in order to add up the top three scores:


The function returns the Nth largest value from the specified range. As shown in the formula, the largest, second largest, and third largest values are returned and added together. You can similarly use the SMALL function to sum the three lowest scores:


ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2161) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Adding Up Tops and Bottoms.

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Comments for this tip:

Geert    08 Apr 2013, 04:33
=SUM(LARGE(C5:C25,1),{1,2,3}) can also be writen as an array formula:
=SUM(LARGE(C5:C25,{1,2,3})) or

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