How to Subtract Columns in Excel (6 Easy Methods)

In this tutorial, I am going to share with you 6 easy methods to subtract columns in Excel. You can easily apply these methods in any set of data to perform subtraction involving two or more columns. To achieve this task, we will also see some useful features that might come in handy in many other Excel-related tasks.


Download Practice Workbook

In the dataset, you will find 5 people with their monthly salaries and expenditures. We will try to calculate the monthly savings of each of them using subtraction between columns.

The intro datasheet is in its raw form.

The next 4 sheets are for methods 1 to 4 respectively.

Sheet 5 (Method 5) is used to demonstrate the subtraction operation between two given times.

Sheet 6 (Method 6) is used to demonstrate the subtraction operation between two given dates.

You can download the Excel dataset and practice the mentioned 6 methods:


6 Easy Methods to Subtract Columns in Excel

1. Subtract Numbers Between Two Columns

To calculate the monthly savings in Excel, we need to subtract Gross expenditure from the monthly salary. Now do the following to calculate it:

Steps:

  • First, select cell K5 to put the calculated value.
  • Next, type
    =C5-J5
    and then hit ENTER.
  • Consequently, you’ve got the Monthly Savings for Smith.
  • Now, place your cursor on the bottom-right corner of cell K5 and a Fill Handle icon will appear.
  • Finally, drag the Fill Handle icon to the end of the column. That’s it.

subtract columns in excel


2. Subtract Numbers Among Multiple Columns

Another way of calculating the monthly savings is to subtract the columns Housing, Food, Transport, Health, Clothing, and Utilities from the Salary column.  Now do the following to calculate it:

Steps:

  • To begin with, select cell K5 to put the calculated value.
  • Now, type
    =C5-D5-E5-F5-G5-H5-I5
    and then hit ENTER
  • Thus, you’ve got the Monthly Savings for Smith.
  • Next, place your cursor on the bottom-right corner of cell K5 and a Fill Handle icon will appear.
  • Lastly, drag the Fill Handle icon to the end of the column. That’s it.

subtract multiple columns in Excel


3. Subtraction Among Multiple Columns Using SUM Function

Now we will see how to use the SUM function to subtract multiple columns in Excel.

Steps:

  •  For this method, select cell K5 to put the calculated value.
  • After that, type
    =C5-SUM(D5:I5)
    and then hit ENTER
  • Thus, you’ve got the Monthly Savings for Smith. 
  • Now, place your cursor on the bottom-right corner of cell K5 and a Fill Handle icon will appear.
  • Then, drag the Fill Handle icon to the end of the column. That’s it.

sum function to subtract columns in excel


4. Subtract a Single Number from a Column of Numbers

In this particular method, we will subtract the cell J5 from the column Salary. Do the following steps:

Steps:

  • To start with, select cell K5 to put the calculated value.
  • Now, type
    =C5-$J$5
    and then hit ENTER.

As cell J5 is fixed, we need the cell to lock up. By placing the Dollar Sign($) before J and 5, we can easily lock up cell J5.

Thus, you’ve got the Monthly Savings for Smith. 

  • Next, place your cursor on the bottom-right corner of cell K5 and a Fill Handle icon will appear.
  • Finally, drag the Fill Handle icon to the end of the column. That’s it.


5. Subtract Time Between Two Columns

To calculate the difference between two given times, you need to subtract the Ending Time from the Starting Time. For this follow the below steps.

Steps:

  • Again, select cell F5 to put the calculated value.
  • Now, type
    =E5-D5
    and then hit ENTER.
  • Thus, you’ve calculated the work hour for 1st January 2020.
  • After that, place your cursor on the bottom-right corner of cell F5 and a Fill Handle icon will appear.
  • At last, drag the Fill Handle icon to the end of the column. That’s it.


6. Subtract Dates Between Two Columns

To calculate the number of days between specific dates, we need to subtract the Ending Date from the Starting Date. Now go through the following steps: 

Steps:

  • Select cell E5 to put the calculated value.
  • Type
    =D5-C5
    and then hit ENTER.
  • Place your cursor on the bottom-right corner of cell E5 and a Fill Handle icon will appear.
  • Drag the Fill Handle icon to the end of the column. That’s it.


Conclusion

In this article, we have demonstrated six different methods that can be used to subtract columns in Excel. As there’s no default function to perform subtraction among columns in Excel, one can follow these easy-peasy methods as per one’s requirement.


Further readings

Mrinmoy Roy

Mrinmoy Roy

Hi! I'm Mrinmoy Roy. I'm an Excel and VBA content developer. I write blogs relating to Microsoft Excel on Exceldemy.com. I've completed my graduation in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Khulna University of Engineering & Technology. I've expertise in Excel functions, formulas, Pivot Table, Power Query, Visual Basic, etc. I write blogs to lessen people's hassles while working on Microsoft Excel.

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