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How to Use AutoSum in Excel to Calculate Totals

AutoSum lets users quickly add numbers from one or more ranges in Microsoft Excel.

You can type the SUM function into a cell or you can click the AutoSum button and have Excel enter it for you – and anyone looking to work more efficiently, there is a keyboard shortcut for AutoSum!

Calculate Totals Using the SUM Function

Adding up rows and columns of numbers are one of the techniques we explore in Microsoft Excel training. It’s something most Excel users need to do.

If you prefer to type the SUM function, it’s pretty easy to use. In this example, I clicked in cell B6, typed =SUM(B2:B5) then I pressed Enter.

The SUM function

If you want to calculate totals for the other columns, you can copy the sum formula to the remaining cells in row 6.

SUM function copied to adjacent cells

If you don’t like typing formulas… that pesky equals sign and don’t get me started on the brackets! You can simply click the AutoSum button instead.

Where to Find AutoSum in Microsoft Excel

People calculate totals so often that Microsoft included the AutoSum button in two different places on the ribbon in Excel.

There is an AutoSum button on the Home tab in the Home > Editing group. Another instance of the AutoSum button exists on the Formulas tab in the Function Library group.

The AutoSum button

How Does AutoSum Work?

AutoSum is easy very to use. It can be used to sum a column or row.

When you select a cell then click the AutoSum button, Excel attempts to calculate a total for the column or row (above or to the left the selected cell).

How to Use AutoSum in Excel

OK… let’s get to the good part. Here is how to use AutoSum in Excel.

In the following example, I dragged to select cells F2:F6. Then I clicked the AutoSum button in the Home > Editing group. Excel automatically calculated totals for rows 2 – 6.

Using AutoSum to calculate totals

Use the AutoSum Shortcut Key to Calculate Totals

Ready for some good news? You can use AutoSum in Microsoft Excel with a keyboard shortcut!

Just drag to select the cells where your totals should go, then press ALT + =.

Excel inserts the AutoSum formula and automatically calculates totals in the range of cells you selected using values for adjacent rows and columns.

In the example below, I dragged to select the range of cells from B6:E6, pressed ALT + = then press Enter.

AutoSum keyboard shortcut

Final Thoughts

AutoSum is a very popular function in Excel. It’s convenient to be able to sum an entire column of numbers any time you click the AutoSum button.

The shortcut key makes it even faster to insert an AutoSum formula in Microsoft Excel… work smarter not harder!

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, you might want to check out XLOOKUP vs VLOOKUP: Excel Trainer Explains Key Differences. Both of these functions are essential for anyone who needs to combine data from multiple sources.

See you next time!

By Michael Belfry

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