How to Calculate Percentage Change in Excel

Do your eyes gloss over when you think about calculating percentage change in Excel?

Whether you want to compare the initial value of an investment to its current value or analyze the amount you’ve spent on utility bills from one year to the next, calculating percentage change can be useful.

Percentage change is a comparison between two values with the result expressed in hundredths. While most of us don’t calculate percentage changes on a daily basis, it’s not difficult to do.

Keep reading to take your first step toward becoming a percentage change formula expert!

The Percentage Change Formula in Excel

To calculate percentage change:

  1. Subtract the old value from the new value.

  2. Divide by the original value.

  3. Multiply the result by 100.

That’s not too hard, right?

Here’s an example of the percent change formula in Excel.

Percentage Change Formula

In cell C2, I typed:


You can also format the result as a percent. Just apply the Percent Style format to cell C2 and enter the formula like this:


Formatted Percentage Change

Percentage Increase vs Percentage Decrease

The above example showed a percent increase. The new value was twice as much as the old value, resulting in a 100% increase.

If the new value is less than the old value, it would result in a percentage decrease, represented by a negative result.

Percentage Decrease

Calculating Percentage Change with Negative Numbers

So far, calculating percentage change has been pretty straightforward. Things get more complicated if you need to calculate a percent decrease using negative values.

If the old value is a positive number and the new value is negative, everything works fine.

Negative Values

Things aren’t as straightforward if the old value is negative and the new number is positive. In this situation, you’ll need to modify the formula and make the denominator positive.

In cell C3, I modified the formula to return an absolute value using the ABS function – that way the final value is positive.


Excel is the Ultimate Percentage Change Calculator

While you can use an online tool to calculate percent change, Excel can calculate percent change for you.

With the simple Excel formulas outline in the article, calculating a percentage difference is pretty easy. Armed with initial and final values, you can determine the percent increase or decrease in no time at all!

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.