How To Add Numbers in Google Sheets

Don’t be fooled by the title of this article. Adding numbers in Google Sheets isn’t just inputting numerical values. It refers to the function of adding numbers — or finding the sum — mathematically through Google Sheets. This tool is incredibly useful for those who need to make quick calculations, record credit/debit transactions made to personal accounts, and for those keeping track of increasing funds or headcounts.

Adding Numbers

You can find the sum of a list of numbers either through the Explore button or by using a formula. Let’s take a closer look at both of those options.

Explore Button

This is the quickest way to find the sum of the numbers you’re adding.

  1. First, create your Google spreadsheet.
  2. Input the list of numerical values that need calculation. Fortunately, numbers do not all have to be in the same column for you to make use of this feature. This way, if your sum is based on numbers in different categories, you do not have to move them to a brand new column specifically for calculation.
  3. Next, select the numbers you want to add by highlighting specific cells.
  4. If, as mentioned before, your numbers are in different columns, hold down the Ctrl key for PC or the Command key on a Mac and click on the cells you want.
  5. On the bottom right hand corner of your spreadsheet screen, you will see a drop down tab and a bubble with a star icon inside of it. This is the “Explore” icon.
  6. The drop down tab will appear when a group of numbers are highlighted. It defaults to reveal the sum of selected numbers.
  7. You may also click on the Explore icon to reveal other information about the group of highlighted numbers.

Using a Formula

Using a formula to find the sum of a group of numbers is not only a good way to start building more sophisticated function and conditional formatting knowledge, but also a way to keep track of totals that increase over time. It is also useful if you have individual charts calculating different things on the same spreadsheet.

Syntax is important when it comes to this formula. For example, the key words SUM and ADD mean two different things.

SUM

SUM will calculate the number of a series of selected cells as per addition rules.

The formula is: =SUM(value 1, value 2…)

  1. Choose a blank cell where you would like to display the sum of the numbers you are adding.
  2. In the formula bar located above the column headers, type in =SUM()
  3. Clicking first within the brackets, make your selection of numbers by clicking and dragging over the desired range.
  4. To include numbers that do not appear consecutively, you can add the value by inserting a comma into the formula. After including the comma, select the next value. Do this until all numbers have been chosen.
  5. Press “Enter” on the keyboard and the sum will appear in the once blank cell.

ADD

ADD will calculate the value of two cells as per addition rules.

The formula is: =ADD(value 1, value 2)

  1. To add two numbers using the ADD formula, choose a blank cell in which you would like to display the total.
  2. In the formula bar, type =ADD()
  3. Clicking within the brackets, select your first number.
  4. Insert a comma into the formula and then choose your second value.
  5. Press “Enter” on the keyboard and the addition results will appear in the once blank cell.

Computerized calculations will never make up for the thought and logic that goes into mathematical equations. Still, the calculator-like finesse of Google Sheets’ add feature is sure to make quick work of big jobs.