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: Summing Absolute Values.

Summing Absolute Values

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 14, 2018)

14

Joseph has a worksheet that contains a list of values. Some of those values are above zero and others are below. He can use the SUM function to calculate a sum of the values, but he really wants to calculate a sum of the absolute value of each item in the list. So, the sum of the three values -33, 14, -5 would be 52 instead of -24.

There is no intrinsic function you can use to create the desired sum, but you can create a formula to perform the task. One method is to use the SUMIF function, in the following manner:

=SUMIF(A1:A10,">0")-SUMIF(A1:A10,"<0")

The first SUMIF sums all the values that are greater than zero, and the second sums all those less than zero. Thus, with the four values -33, 14, -5, 42, the first SUMIF would result in a sum of 56 (14 + 42) and the second would result in a sum of -38 (-33 + -5). When you subtract the second sum from the first (56 - -38) you get a final answer of 94, which is the sum of all the absolute values.

Another approach is to use the SUMPRODUCT function. The following formula will produce the desired result:

=SUMPRODUCT(ABS(A1:A10))

The function is typically used to multiply different elements of arrays by each other, and then sum those products. Since only one array (A1:A10) is provided, there is no multiplication done, but a sum of the desired absolute values is returned.

You can also get the desired result by using an array formula, a convenient but seldom used feature of Excel. Assuming your values are in the range A1:A10, type this formula:

=SUM(ABS(A1:A10))

Don't press Enter; instead press Ctrl+Shift+Enter, which signifies this is an array formula. If the formula is entered correctly, you'll see braces around the formula in the Formula bar:

{=SUM(ABS(A1:A50))}

What the formula does is internally create the intermediate column (which is an array of values) which are the individual absolute values of A1:A10. It then sums this array and displays the result.

Finally, if you prefer you could create your own user-defined function (a macro) that will return the sum of the absolute values in a range. The following is a macro that will accomplish this task:

Function SumAbs(Rng As Range) As Double
    Result = 0
    On Error GoTo Done
    For Each element In Rng
        Result = Result + Abs(element)
    Next element
Done:
    SumAbs = Result
End Function

You can use the function by entering a simple formula in your worksheet:

=SumAbs(A1:A10)

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2913) 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: Summing Absolute Values.

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. ...

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Comments

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What is 2 + 4?

2019-08-05 12:29:35

Willy Vanhaelen

The macro in this tip has a serious bug!

If the range contains a string (even a cell containing just a space) the UDF (User Defined Function) will produce a faulty result.
 - An error will occur when the For Next loop encounters a cell containing a srtring.
 - The "On Error GoTo Done" line causes the looping to stop and the line after 'Done:' will be executed.
 - The result at that moment will be displayed skipping the rest of the range which is of course totally wrong.

So deleting the On Error line will fix this bug but here is a one-liner that does the same job correctly:

Function SumAbs(Rng As Range) As Double
SumAbs = Evaluate("SUM(ABS(" & Rng.Address & "))")
End Function

it shows #VALUE! in case your range contains a string just as the formulas do.
In fact it is simply the VBA implementation of the array formula {=SUM(ABS(Range))}


2019-01-21 15:37:38

Barbara Gordon

I am trying to create a spreadsheet that has an absolute value of lets say 50 and I wont to run a decreasing total as i add columns. So, row 2 has 4 qty bringing the total to 46 and row 3 has 5 qty bringing the total to 41. I have 300 rows and will be adding amounts to each row. I want it to automatically decrease from one entry to the next. I need it to include all prior deductions so that the running total is correct.

So, I need each new entry, I believe to constant (inclusive in the next lines total. I hope this makes sense


2017-02-19 08:15:14

Katalin Tamas

Fantastic, thank you!


2017-01-05 08:37:04

Annette

Took just a few seconds to get the answer I needed and would never have figured out on my own!


2016-09-22 06:36:20

Dan

Today I've learned something I never knew - array formula's and CTRL-SHIFT-ENTER. I've been trying to find why the ABS func applied to a range of cells wasn't working for the last few days and after much searching, this is the answer. Thank you. Couldn't resolve in Microsoft help!


2016-02-25 08:10:09

khalid

=sum(iif(position="driver" and "labour" and "civil enginner" and "project manager" and "manager",1,0))
i need total for every position in finally is separated not total for No of.positions.

help me


2015-08-14 05:48:55

Michael (Micky) Avidan

@Sabdjong Tomi,
Please present your data table OR much better would be to upload your Workbook to a File Hosting site and let us have the link to download it.
*** Please explain - exactly - what your are trying to calculate
-----------------------
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2016)
ISRAEL


2015-08-14 04:24:53

Sabdjong Tomi

Dear Allen

is this forula correct to compte the average of absolute value in a range of data?

=+IFERROR((((SUM((ABS((C5-D5)/C5)),ABS((C6-D6)/C6),ABS((C7-D7)/C7),ABS((C8-D8)/C8),ABS((C9-D9)/C9),ABS((C10-D10)/C10),ABS((C11-D11)/C11),ABS((C12-D12)/C12),ABS((C13-D13)/C13),ABS((C14-D14)/C14),ABS((C15-D15)/C15),ABS((C16-D16)/C16),ABS((C17-D17)/C17),ABS((C18-D18)/C18),ABS((C19-D19)/C19),ABS((C20-D20)/C20),ABS((C21-D21)/C21),ABS((C22-D22)/C22),ABS((C23-D23)/C23),ABS((C24-D24)/C24),ABS((C25-D25)/C25),ABS((C26-D26)/C26),ABS((C27-D27)/C27),ABS((C28-D28)/C28),ABS((C29-D29)/C29)))/COUNTIF(D5:D29,"<>"))),0)


2015-07-29 16:36:39

John

That was awesome, thank you!


2015-02-09 10:07:01

Robert

@ Micky -

Forgive the double email - my coworker was able to get it to work.

Thank you!

Robert


2015-02-09 10:05:29

Robert

@ Micky

Thank you for the prompt reply.

I tried to use your formula and I was not able to get it to work.

I tried:

=SUMPRODUCT((I1:I336="W")*ABS(E1:E336))

and got an "#VALUE!" error.


2015-02-09 06:00:56

Michael (Micky) Avidan

@Robert,
If I understood you correctly and assuming you have:
A1:A10 with TickMarks
B1:B10 With Pos. & Neg. values ) in order to sum the absolute values that have a "W" in the adjacent cell - try the following formulas:
=SUMPRODUCT((A1:A10="W")*ABS(B1:B10))
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2015)
ISRAEL


2015-02-09 00:51:40

Robert

Is there a way to incorporate the =SUMIF(A1:A10,">0")-SUMIF(A1:A10,"<0") with an additional SUM IF?

Specifically, I have a table of data with both positive and negative values. I'd like to perform a SUM IF, in absolute value, on a portion of the tables' data, indicated by a single column Tickmark?

For example, I'd like to SUM IF "W" in a column)

So I'm thinking of somehow creating a SUM IF = (indicate the "W", add your SUM IF to get absolute value)?


2014-09-11 16:18:38

Thomas

This was the tip I needed. I was dealing with a negative number in format (35), and the formula handled the number format just fine. Thanks


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