Two quick ways to sum Excel data

Manually entering a SUM() function can introduce errors into your spreadsheet. These two easy point-and-click methods are safer and more efficient.
There are a number of ways to insert a SUM() function into an Excel spreadsheet. The hard way is to enter the entire function manually. That method is prone to mistakes because you must know the cell references and then enter them correctly. If you like, you can enter =SUM( manually, highlight the range to avoid incorrect cell references, enter the closing ), and then press Enter. That method eliminates the problem with cell references, but it still requires a lot of steps. There are two easier ways to sum values:
  • Highlight the row or column, plus one blank cell for the result, and press [Alt]++.
  • Highlight the row or column, plus one blank cell for the result and click AutoSum on the Standard toolbar.
For example, if you want to sum the values in cells B2:B5, you selecte cells B2:B6, and then press [Alt]++ or click AutoSum. Excel will display the sum in cell B6. You don't have to enter a thing — just highlight and click or press. Obviously, AutoSum is the easiest route, but the Standard toolbar isn't always available, so knowing the [Alt]++ combination might come in handy. Most methods work with multiple columns and rows and noncontiguous blocks of values.


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.

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