Software

Add calculating rows and columns to a Word table

Excel isn't your only option if you need to evaluate values and your primary need is word processing. Use Word's formula feature to perform simple calculations.

If you're not an Excel fan, but you need a few basic calculations, you can use Word. Its calculating feature is rudimentary and it certainly can't replace Excel. On the other hand, this feature is helpful when your primary need is word processing and not number crunching.

The rules are simple:

  1. Enter the values you'll be calculating into a table.
  2. If you're calculating rows, add a new column to the right or left of the table and click Formula in the Data group (on the contextual Layout tab).
  3. If you're calculating columns, add a new row to the bottom or top of the table and click Formula.

As you can see, calculating values in a Word table is straightforward and Word does most of the work for you. Let's work through a quick example using the table shown below. Specifically, we'll total commissions by salesperson and by specific vehicle types. To do so, we'll add a calculating column to the right and a calculating row at the bottom.

First, let's add the calculating column, as follows:

  1. Insert a new column to the right by clicking any cell in the right-most column and clicking Insert Right in the Rows & Columns group on the contextual Layout tab. In Word 2003, select Insert from the Table menu, and then select Columns To The Right.
  2. Select the second cell in the new column (not the header cell, the one at the end of the Smith row).
  3. Click Formula in the Data group. In Word 2003, choose Formula from the Table menu.
  4. Word anticipates your needs and supplies the appropriate formula for you - add everything to the left of this cell. If Word doesn't supply the formula for you, enter =SUM(LEFT)
  5. From the Format dropdown, choose the currency format, $#,##0.00;($#,##0.00).
  6. Click OK. You might have to resize the column to accommodate the new content.
  7. Repeat the process for each row, but be careful. Once you add the first formula, Word will detect values above the current cell and default to ABOVE instead of LEFT, in the formula. You'll need to change =SUM(ABOVE) to =SUM(LEFT).

Adding totals to each column is just as easy:

  1. Add a new row to the bottom of the table.
  2. Click in the third cell - the Car, New column.
  3. Click Formula in the Data group.
  4. You won't have to change the formula, because Word will detect the values above and default accordingly.
  5. Set the format.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Repeat the process for each column.

Word calculations don't update automatically. To update a calculating cell, select it and press [F9]. You can select the entire table and press [F9] to update all of the calculations in the table. Similarly, you can select a row, a column, or a block of rows and columns.

Avoid merging and splitting cells in a calculating table. Doing so can have unexpected results that are difficult to troubleshoot.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

11 comments
gtcowan
gtcowan

I have used Word in the past to perform simple calculations without problems but now I have a real conundrum. I have a table inserted into a Word document and it needs to calculate as follows A * B = C D * E = F G = C + F 2 X 5 = 10 5 x 5 = 25 G Sum should be 35 but it shows 70 instead Fields A,B,C, D,E,F all calculate correctly but the sum of C and F is always doubled. Through trial and error I found that using numbers in the bookmark fields interferes with the calculating in C and F so I made sure not to use numbers in the bookmarks. This G sum has really stumped me.

cdpitcock
cdpitcock

To prevent having to retype (left), start at the bottom

JGonzalez0814
JGonzalez0814

Why can't the formula in a cell to add across a row be copied to the cells in the subsequent rows along the same column?

raheelasadkhan
raheelasadkhan

Word does lack in it's ability to add complex formulas and even the support available is not widely known to a majority of users. Of course, the application should keep it's focus on word processing. That said, considering Word is mainly used for business documents, which often require calculation sheets, there should be more seamless integration with Excel or some mechanism to allow maintenance of single documents rather than multiple.

spiras
spiras

...even though I'm a hard-core Excel user. Sometimes I have to edit financial statements and similar documents which were created in Word for various reasons. Having the ability to automatically sum up numbers in a table saves me proofreading the numbers if I already know what the total should be.

Susan.Nortje7
Susan.Nortje7

Hi There this seems like a very easy function, yet following these instructions I am unable to make it work. I got a return but it's not the sum of the amounts I have in the column? Please help! This would really make my life a lot easier (I'm an excel FAN but am forced to do certain things in Word). Many Thanks Susan

jpl1953es
jpl1953es

Is a known feature, but users mut be aware to update fields, otherwise results could be incorrrect as Word does not makes automatic calculations

jpl1953es
jpl1953es

You can use "Copy" and "Paste", you cannot use someting like in Excel (Select a range and Ctrl+J to cpy down, or Ctrl+' to copy from above). For me, the worst problem in word is that there is no posibility to automatically recalculate formulas when changing a data in the table

cpollack
cpollack

If you're familar with Excel..don't need to be a fan..I think it's much easier to embed an Excel spreadsheet than to use the weak functions provided in Word. In Word 2003, pull down the "instert" menu and select "object"; from there, choose "Microsoft Excel Worksheet." Double click on the spreadsheet to open or edit it within your Word document, and you have all the power of Excel.

jpl1953es
jpl1953es

1.- Ensure you are using correct Word localization (name of functions changes in each languaje). 2.- Ensure coordinates (if you're using cells naming as a2...) are correct. Word has a tricky way to name cells in tables, is not straightforward. Go to Word help to verify. (This is the reason I don??t like to put sums in word tables)

Prendo
Prendo

I agree with cpollack. Maybe this tip is OK for a Q&D table, but here we use lots of word docs with bits and pieces of spreadsheets throughout the doc. To put in part of a spreadsheet, I select the area in Excel, then go back to word (2010) and select Paste, Paste Special, Paste Link, then Excel Worksheet Object. This will update when you update the worksheet, which has been every month for over a decade now in some docs!!