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.

Adding Up Tops and Bottoms

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 30, 2016)


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.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


Cannot View Graphics in a Document

Got a problem where you can't view any of the graphics you insert in your document? The solution could be simple, or you ...

Discover More

Clearing the Undo Stack in a Macro

When writing a macro, you may need a way to clear the undo stack. This can be done with a single command, as described in ...

Discover More

Setting a Default Table Border Width

When you insert a table into your document, it uses a standard-weight line around each cell in the table. If you want to ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Counting Cells with Specific Characters

Excel is used by many people to hold all sorts of data, not just numbers. If you have cells that include meaningful ...

Discover More

Counting within Criteria

You can use the COUNTIF function to determine how many cells in a range fit your criteria. One criterion is easy; using ...

Discover More

Using GEOMEAN with a Large List

When performing a statistical analysis on a large dataset, you may want to use GEOMEAN to figure out the geometric mean ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 4 + 4?

2013-04-08 04:33:07


=SUM(LARGE(C5:C25,1),{1,2,3}) can also be writen as an array formula:
=SUM(LARGE(C5:C25,{1,2,3})) or

This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.