# How to Calculate Percentage Change with Negative Numbers in Excel

Get FREE Advanced Excel Exercises with Solutions!

Theoretically and even practically, you cannot find the percentage change for negative numbers. If not possible, then how can we calculate percentage change with negative numbers in Excel? You can certainly use different formulas, however, they appear to produce inaccurate or misleading results most of the time. Here I will show 2 methods to calculate the percentage change with negative numbers in Excel.

## How to Calculate Percentage Change with Negative Numbers in Excel: 2 Methods

The formula for percentage change between any two numbers is like below.

Letâ€™s assume a scenario where we have an Excel file that contains information about the income or earnings of 5 different companies in 2 consecutive years. We will use the incomes of these companies to calculate percentages with negative numbers in Excel. The image below shows the worksheet that we are going to work with.

### 1. Calculate Percentage Change in Excel When Old Value is Positive and New Value is Negative

If the old value is positive while the new one is negative, we can use the below formula to calculate the percentage change.

Steps:

â¦¿ First, we will write down the below formula in cell F5.

`=(D5-C5)/(C5)`

Formula Breakdown:

Here,

D5 = Income(This Year) = New Value

C5 = Income (Previous Year) = Old Value

â¦¿ Upon pressing ENTER, we will get the percentage change between negative Income (Previous Year) and positive Income (Previous Year).

â¦¿ Now, we will drag the Fill Handle to apply the formula to the rest of the cells.

â¦¿ Finally, we will see all the percentage changes between the negative valued Income (Previous Year) and positive valued Income (Previous Year).

### 2. Calculate the Percentage Change in Excel by Making the Denominator Absolute

The above formula will not work when the old value is negative and the new one is positive or both of them are negatives. Because if the old value is negative while the new one is positive, then the formula will always produce a negative value that indicates a negative percentage change. In this example, loss for the company while in reality, the company makes a profit and hence the percentage change should be positive. The same situation will arise when both of the numbers are negative. In such cases, we will have to make the denominator absolute.

Steps:

â¦¿ First, we will write down the below formula in cell F5.

`=(D5-C5)/ABS(C5)`

Formula Breakdown:

Here,

D5 = Income(This Year) = New Value

C5 = Income (Previous Year) = Old Value

The ABS functionÂ in Excel will make the denominator value absolute.

â¦¿ Upon pressing ENTER, we will get the percentage change between negative Income (Previous Year) and positive Income (Previous Year).

â¦¿ Now, we will drag the Fill HandleÂ to apply the formula to the rest of the cells.

â¦¿ Finally, we will see all the percentage changes between the negative valued Income (Previous Year) and positive valued Income (Previous Year).

But, there is a catch!!!

Look carefully at the percentage changes in income for companies B andÂ E. Both the percentage changes are positive, but the change in the income ofÂ E is much lower than that ofÂ B. In reality, E has earned more profit thanÂ B.

We will now see two runarounds that although can not solve the problem completely. But they are able to mitigate it to a great extent.

### Alternative Method 1: No Result for the Negative Numbers in Excel

In the first method, we will look for the negative numbers in both the old and new values. If we find a negative value, we will then show a text to tell the viewer that a percentage change is not possible.

Steps:

â¦¿ First, we will write down the below formula in cell E5.

`=IF(MIN(C5,D5)<=0,"Can Not Be Calculated",(D5/C5)-1)`
Formula Breakdown:

The IF function will perform a logical test (MIN(C5,D5)<=0). If the logical test returns TRUE, the function will return the string Can Not Be Calculated. And if the logical test returns FALSE, then the function will return the percentage of change between the two values ( (D5/C5)-1).

â¦¿ Upon pressing ENTER, the formula will return the string Can Not Be CalculatedÂ as the new value (D5) or Income (This Year) is negative.

â¦¿ ThenÂ we will drag the Fill Handle to apply the formula to the rest of the cells.

â¦¿ Finally, we will see the values that the formula will return based on the logical test.

### Alternative Method 2: Display Positive or Negative Percentage Changes in Excel

Another way is to show a P or LÂ if there is a negative number and the company makes a profit or incurs a loss.

Steps:

â¦¿ First, we will write down the below formula in cell F5.

`=IF(MIN(C5,D5)<=0,IF((D5-C5)>0,"P","N"),(D5/C5)-1)`

Formula Breakdown:

• First IF function will perform a logical test (MIN(C5,D5)<=0) to determine if there is a negative number in old and new values. If there is a negative number (TRUE), then it will perform the second IFÂ function.
• The second IF test performs another logical test ((D5-C5)>0) to determine if the new value is greater than the old value. If the new value is greater than the old value (TRUE), then the second IF function will return the string PÂ (Indicates a positive change). And if the new value is smaller than the old value (FALSE), then it will return the string NÂ (Indicates a negative change).
• If the logical test in the first IF function returns FALSE, then the function will return the percentage of change between the two positive values ((D5/C5)-1).

â¦¿ Upon pressing ENTER, the formula will return the string NÂ as the new value (D5) or Income (This Year) is smaller than the old value (C5) or Income (Previous Year). The NÂ indicates that there is a negative change or decline in income.

â¦¿ ThenÂ we will drag the Fill HandleÂ to apply the formula to the rest of the cells.

â¦¿ Finally, we will see the values that the formula will return based on the logical test.

## Quick Notes

ðŸŽ¯Â  You can also calculate the difference between two numbers.

ðŸŽ¯Â  Or if you are interested you can calculate average percentage change in Excel.

ðŸŽ¯ And you can use this Free Template and Calculator to calculate the average percentage in Excel.

## Related Articles

<< Go Back to Percentage Change |Â Calculating PercentagesÂ | Calculate in Excel | Learn Excel

## What is ExcelDemy?

ExcelDemy - Learn Excel & Get Excel Solutions Center provides online Excel training , Excel consultancy services , free Excel tutorials, free support , and free Excel Templates for Excel professionals and businesses. Feel free to contact us with your Excel problems.
ASM Arman

Abu Saleh Arman is a Marine engineer and Excel & VBA expert. He loves programming with VBA. He finds VBA programming a time-saving tool to manipulate data, handle files, and interact with the internet. He is very interested in Python, MATLAB, PHP, Deep Neural Networks, and Machine Learning, showcasing his diverse skill set. Arman holds a B.Sc in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering from BUET, Bangladesh. However, he switched to a content developer, where he writes technical content... Read Full Bio

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Advanced Excel Exercises with Solutions PDF