Calculating In Word Tables

Every now and again I stumble upon Word users who still use their calculator to sum the amounts they have typed in their tables. When I tell them that Word is capable of doing that for them they are actually surprised. So let’s take a close look at the table and calculation options in Word.

Regular table
Ok let’s take a look at a regular table you can create in Word. In the example below I just created a table with 2 columns and 5 rows. Everyone knows these tables. In the last row in the second column we want to sum all the prices so there will be a neat totals row. To create a total we place the cursor on the sixth row in the second column. Now we go to the contextual ribbon “Layout” and click on the [Formula] button on the far right.

I am assuming you are using Word 2010 here. In 2003 and earlier you will find the formula option under the “tables” menu. You will see the next dialog pop up: (Click on the image to enlarge)






Now when you click OK you will see that there is a total of 113 in the sixth row. Neat right? If you want you can also set the number format.

Refresh the table after prices change
Ofcourse prices can change. If they do and you want to refresh your total row then place the cursor in the ‘old’ total (it should become grey so you know you are actually updating the field) and now you press F9. Your totals row should be updated now.

Calculating with text in my table cell?
Many people don’t know they can do the same even if there is text in the cell let’s say before the price. Take a look at the picture below. I’ve taken the same table and added some text in two lines. Now let’s see if the calculation still works.



As you can see Word still calculates the correct total. The great advantage here is that you can actually type some text before your numbers and the calculation will still be done by Word. How is that for a word processor!

And what if we added a text row between the prices. In the following picture you will see that I added a row with Outlook Calendars which our out of stock. That’s what I typed in the price column. Will Word still calculate the correct total? It will!


How about this one?
Take a look at the following table (picture below). How would you calculate the sum of these numbers? We are looking for a totals sum of all the numbers in the very last cell.

Mini Excel
When you do calculations in a Word table you can actually see the table as a mini Excel grid. If you have any experience with excel you know that columns have letters and rows have numbers. So the first column in your Word table is column A and the first row in your Word table is row 1. The second column is column B and the second row is row 2 and so on. So in fact for Word the table looks like this:


Looking at this we can say that In cell A1 we see number 12 and in A2 we see number 11. With that knowledge we are now able to do the math in the very last cell. So place the cursor in the very last cell of the Word table. Click the formula button again in the contextual tab in the ribbon. You will see the formula dialog pop up. Instead of the regular =SUM(ABOVE) we alter the statement to:

=SUM(A1:H3) and click OK. You will see that Word places a total of 113 in the very last cell.

What did we do?
We wrote the formula =Sum(A1:H3) in the dialogbox. This means that we wanted everything between the range of A1 to H3 to be summed. If you know any of he functions in Excel you might also want to try AVERAGE or MAX for that matter.

So now you know that you are actually using the excel grid can you create a totals row in the last cell summing only the red bold faced numbers as show below?



Happy Crunching 🙂

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