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How to calculate percentage in Excel — formula examples
In this tutorial, you will lean a quick way to calculate percentages in Excel, find the basic percentage formula and a few more formulas for calculating percentage increase, percent of total and more.
Calculating percentage is useful in many areas of life, whether it is restaurant tipping, reseller commission, your income tax or interest rate. Say, you’ve been lucky enough to get a 25% off promotion code on a new plasma TV. Is this a good deal? And how much will you eventually have to pay?
In this tutorial, we are going to explore a few techniques that will help you efficiently calculate percent in Excel and learn the basic percentage formulas that will take the guesswork out of your calculations.
The term “per cent” is derived from the Latin per centum, meaning “by the hundred”. As you probably remember from high school math class, a percentage is a fraction of 100 that is calculated by dividing the numerator by the denominator and multiplying the result by 100.
The basic percentage formula is as follows:
(Part/Whole)*100 = Percentage
For example, if you had 20 apples and you gave 5 to your friends, how much did you give, percentage wise? By performing a simple calculation
=5/20*100 you get the answer – 25%.
This is how you normally calculate percentages in school and everyday life. Computing percentage in Microsoft Excel is even easier since Excel performs some operations for you automatically, in the background.
Regrettably, there is no universal Excel formula for percentage that would cover all possible scenarios. If you ask someone “Which percent formula do I use to get the result I want?”, most likely, you will get an answer like “Well, that depends on what exactly result you want to achieve.”
So, let me show you a few simple formulas for calculating a percent in Excel such as a percentage increase formula, a formula to get percentages of a total and more.
Basic Excel percentage formula
The basic formula to calculate percentage in Excel is this:
Part/Total = Percentage
If you compare it to the basic math formula for percentage, you will notice that Excel’s percentage formula lacks the *100 part. When calculating a percent in Excel, you do not have to multiply the resulting fraction by 100 since Excel does this automatically when the percentage format is applied to a cell.
And now, let’s see how you can use the Excel percentage formula on real-life data. Suppose, you have the number of “Ordered items” in column B and “Delivered items” in column C. To find out the percentage of delivered products, perform the following steps:
- Enter the formula
=C2/B2in cell D2, and copy it down to as many rows as you need.
- Click the Percent Style button (Home tab > Number group) to display the resulting decimal fractions as percentages.
- Remember to increase the number of decimal places if needed, as explained in Percentage tips.
- Done! : )
The same sequence of steps shall be performed when using any other percentage formula in Excel.
In the following example, column D displays a rounded percent of delivered items, without any decimal places showing.
Calculating percentage of total in Excel
In fact, the above example is a particular case of calculating percentages of a total. Now, let’s investigate a few more examples that will help you make quick work of calculating a percent of a total in Excel on different data sets.
Example 1. The total is at the end of the table in a certain cell
A very common scenario is when you have a total in a single cell at the end of a table. In this case, the percentage formula will be similar to the one we’ve just discussed with the only difference that a cell reference in the denominator is an absolute reference (with $).The dollar sign fixes the reference to a given cell, so that it never changes no matter where the formula is copied.
For example, if you have some values in column B and their total in cell B10, you’d use the following formula to calculate percentages of the total:
You use a relative cell reference to cell B2 because you want it to get changed when you copy the formula to other cells of column B. But you enter $B$10 as an absolute cell reference because you want to leave the denominator fixed on B10 when auto-filling the formula down to row 9.
Tip. To make the denominator an absolute reference, either type the dollar sign ($) manually or click the cell reference in the formula bar and press F4.
Example 2. Parts of the total are in multiple rows
In the above example, suppose you have several rows for the same product and you want to know what part of the total is made by all orders of that particular product.
In this case, you can use the SUMIF function to add up all numbers relating to a given product first, and then divide that number by the total, like this:
=SUMIF(range, criteria, sum_range) / total
Given that column A contains all product names, column B lists corresponding quantities, cell E1 is the name of the product you are interested in, and the total is in cell B10, your real-life formula may look similar to this:
=SUMIF(A2:A9 ,E1, B2:B9) / $B$10
Naturally, you can put the product name directly in the formula, like this:
=SUMIF(A2:A9, "cherries", B2:B9) / $B$10
If you want to find out what part of the total a few different products make, add up the results returned by several SUMIF functions, and then divide that number by the total. For example, the following formula calculates the percent of cherries and apples:
=(SUMIF(A2:A9, "cherries", B2:B9) + SUMIF(A2:A9, "apples", B2:B9)) / $B$10
For more information about the SUM function, please check out the following tutorials:
- How to use the SUMIF function in Excel
- Excel SUMIFS and SUMIF with multiple criteria
How to calculate percent change in Excel
Of all formulas for calculating percentage in Excel, a percent change formula is probably the one you would use most often.
Excel formula for percentage change (percentage increase / decrease)
To calculate percent change between values A and B, use the following formula:
Percent Change = (B — A) / A
When applying this formula to real data, it is important that you correctly determine which value is A and which is B. For example, yesterday you had 80 apples and how you have 100, meaning that now you have 20 apples more than before, which is 25% increase. If you had 100 apples and now you have 80, your number of apples has reduced by 20, which is 20% decrease.
Considering the above, our Excel formula for percentage change takes the following shape:
(New Value — Old Value) / Old Value
And now, let’s see how you can use this percentage change formula (aka Excel percentage increase formula) in your spreadsheets.
Example 1. Calculating percent change between 2 columns
Suppose that you have the last month prices in column B and this month prices in column C. Then you can enter the following formula in cell D2 to calculate percentage change in your Excel sheet:
This percent change formula calculates the percentage increase / decrease in this month (column C) comparted to last month (column B).
After copying the formula to other rows, remember to click the Percent Style button on the ribbon to display decimals as percentages and you will get a result similar to what you see in the screenshot below.
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