How To Subtract On Excel

Introduction to Excel Subtraction

Subtraction in Excel is a fundamental arithmetic operation that allows you to find the difference between two values. Whether you’re a seasoned Excel user or just starting out, understanding how to subtract in Excel is an essential skill that can streamline your data analysis and reporting tasks.

Getting Started with Subtraction

Before diving into the specifics of subtraction in Excel, it’s important to understand the basic structure of a formula. In Excel, all calculations are performed using formulas, which follow a certain syntax. The subtraction operation in Excel utilizes the ‘-‘ operator to subtract one value from another.

Subtracting Numbers in Excel

To subtract two numbers in Excel, simply type the equal sign ‘=’ in the cell where you want the result to appear, followed by the cell reference or the actual value of the minuend (the number from which another number is to be subtracted), the ‘-‘ operator, and then the subtrahend (the number to be subtracted). For example, to subtract the value in cell A2 from the value in cell B2 and display the result in cell C2, the formula would be: =B2-A2.

Dealing with Negative Numbers

When performing subtractions that might result in negative numbers, Excel handles them with ease. If the result of a subtraction is negative, Excel will display the negative number without any special notation. It’s important to keep this in mind when working with financial or other types of data that might produce negative results.

Subtracting Dates and Times

Excel also provides the capability to subtract dates and times. When you subtract one date from another, Excel will return the difference in days. Similarly, when you subtract one time from another, Excel will return the difference in time, which can be formatted to display in hours, minutes, or seconds.


After mastering the art of subtraction in Excel, you’ll find that a whole new level of data analysis and manipulation opens up to you. From simple budgeting to complex financial modeling, the ability to subtract in Excel is a crucial skill that will serve you well in your professional and personal endeavors.