# Subtract numbers

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Let's say you want to find out how many inventory items are not profitable (total inventory – profitable items) or how many employees are approaching retirement age (total employees – employees under 55). There are several ways to subtract numbers.

### What do you want to do?

Subtract numbers in a cell

Subtract numbers in a range

# Subtract numbers in a cell

To do this task, use the - (minus sign) arithmetic operator.

For example, if you type the following formula in a cell:

`10-5`

The cell displays the following result:

`5`

# Subtract numbers in a range

To do this task, use the SUM function. Adding a negative number is the same as subtracting.

## Example

The example may be easier to understand if you copy it to a blank worksheet.

1. Create a blank workbook or worksheet.
2. Select the example in the Help topic.

Note   Do not select the row or column headers.

Selecting an example from Help
1. Press CTRL+C.
2. In the worksheet, select cell A1, and press CTRL+V.
3. To switch between viewing the results and viewing the formulas that return the results, press CTRL+` (grave accent), or on the Formulas tab, in the Formula Auditing group, click the Show Formulas button.
A
Data
15,000
9,000
-8,000
Formula Description (Result)
=A2-A3 Subtracts 9,000 from 15,000 (6,000)
=SUM(A2:A4) Adds all numbers in the list, including negative numbers (16,000)

SUM

Applies to:
Excel 2003