Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Summing Absolute Values.

Summing Absolute Values

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 6, 2024)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


1

Joseph has a worksheet that contains a list of values. Some of those values are above zero and others are below. He can use the SUM function to calculate a sum of the values, but he really wants to calculate a sum of the absolute value of each item in the list. So, the sum of the three values -33, 14, -5 would be 52 instead of -24.

There is no intrinsic function you can use to create the desired sum, but you can create a formula to perform the task. One method is to use the SUMIF function, in the following manner:

=SUMIF(A1:A10,">0")-SUMIF(A1:A10,"<0")

The first SUMIF sums all the values that are greater than zero, and the second sums all those less than zero. Thus, with the four values -33, 14, -5, 42, the first SUMIF would result in a sum of 56 (14 + 42) and the second would result in a sum of -38 (-33 + -5). When you subtract the second sum from the first (56 - -38) you get a final answer of 94, which is the sum of all the absolute values.

Another approach is to use the SUMPRODUCT function. The following formula will produce the desired result:

=SUMPRODUCT(ABS(A1:A10))

The function is typically used to multiply different elements of arrays by each other, and then sum those products. Since only one array (A1:A10) is provided, there is no multiplication done, but a sum of the desired absolute values is returned.

You can also get the desired result by using an array formula, a convenient but seldom used feature of Excel. Assuming your values are in the range A1:A10, type this formula:

=SUM(ABS(A1:A10))

If you are using a version of Excel prior to Excel 2021 or Excel in Microsoft 365, you'll need to enter this as an array formula. (In other words, press Ctrl+Shift+Enter to enter the formula.) The formula internally creates the intermediate column (which is an array of values) which are the individual absolute values of A1:A10. It then sums this array and displays the result.

Finally, if you prefer you could create your own user-defined function (a macro) that will return the sum of the absolute values in a range. The following will accomplish the task:

Function SumAbs(Rng As Range) As Double
    Dim c As Range
    Dim r As Double

    r = 0
    On Error Resume Next
    For Each c In Rng
        r = r + Abs(c)
    Next c
    SumAbs = r
End Function

You can use the function by entering a simple formula in your worksheet:

=SumAbs(A1:A10)

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12615) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Summing Absolute Values.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Large Numbers in the MOD Function

There is a known bug in the MOD function that stops it from working with large numbers and small divisors. This tip ...

Discover More

Getting a Warning for Markup

Many people, when collaborating on a document with others, use the Track Changes feature to show the effects of their ...

Discover More

Getting a Conditional Count of Cells Containing Values

Excel provides several worksheet functions that can be used to count cells containing values--"particularly numeric ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Counting Cells According to Case

Text placed in cells can either be lowercase, uppercase, or a mixture of the two. If you want to count the cells based ...

Discover More

Generating a Gift Exchange List

Want to figure out how to do a gift exchange for your family or office? There are a variety of ways you can approach the ...

Discover More

Deleting Duplicate Text Values

Got a list of data from which you want to delete duplicates? There are a couple of techniques you can use to get rid of ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is nine minus 3?

2024-04-07 12:12:24

Willy Vanhaelen

Here is a one-liner UDF that does the job:

Function SumAbs(Rng As Range)
    SumAbs = Evaluate("SUM(ABS(" & Rng.Address & "))")
End Function


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.