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What is adding cells in Excel?

Adding cells in Excel implies summing their values and – usually – recording the result in a separate cell.

How to add cells?

There are numerous ways to add cells in Excel, but two of them are used most frequently:

  1. Write a formula with a plus sign
  2. Write a formula using SUM function
Quick examples
adding cells example

Figure 1. Example of cells to add

Sample task

Let’s say we’re planning a vacation, and need to calculate our total budget. We know the estimated cost of air travel, hotel, food, and taxi, but need to calculate the total budget for the trip (Figure 1).

How to add cells in Excel using a plus sign

To add cells using a plus sign:

  1. Select the cell where you want the result recorded (C6 in our example above)
  2. Type =
  3. Click on the first cell to add or type its name (C2)
  4. Type +
  5. Click on the second cell to add or type its name (C3)
  6. Repeat the previous two steps for all remaining cells you want to add (+C4+C5)
  7. how to add cells using plus sign

    Figure 2. Adding cells with a plus sign

    Press Enter

Before you press Enter, your screen should look somewhat similar to what you can see in Figure 2.

How to add cells in Excel using SUM function

To add cells using SUM function:

  1. Select the cell where you want the result recorded (C6 in our example above)
  2. Type =SUM(
  3. Select all the cells you want to add. There are a lot of different ways to do it, for example:
    • Click on the first cell (C2) and, holding left button of the mouse, drag the pointer down until all cells are included in the selection
    • how to add cells using sum function

      Figure 3. Adding cells with SUM function

      Click on the first cell (C2), press and hold Shift on your keyboard, then click on the last cell to add (C5)

    • Click on the first cell, press and hold Ctrl, and then sequentially click on all remaining cells one by one: C3, C4, C5
    • Select the first cell using navigation buttons on your keyboard – Up, Down, Left, and Right, – then press and hold Shift while pressing Down button three times until all remaining cells are selected
    • Select the first cell using any of the methods above, then press Ctrl + Shift + Down to select all remaining cells
    • Type C2:C5
  4. Type )
  5. Press Enter

Before you last step, your screen should probably look somewhat like Figure 3. You can also try practicing different variations of cell selection in point 3 above (e.g., typing C2: and then clicking on the last cell in the selection). If you need more guidance on this step, consider reviewing our post explaining how to select multiple cells in Excel.

If you want to know more…
add cells quick analysis shortcut

Figure 4. Quick Analysis shortcut

How to add cells in Excel using Quick Analysis toolbar

Another way to add cells in Excel is to use Quick Analysis toolbar:

  1. Select the cells you want to add up (if you need more help with it, refer to our post about how to select cells in Excel)
  2. Press Ctrl + Q or click on the Quick Analysis shortcut that appears at the bottom right corner of the selection (Figure 4)
  3. In the Quick Analysis Toolbar that appears, select Totals >> Sum (Figure 5)
add cells quick analysis toolbar

Figure 5. Quick Analysis toolbar

How to add cells in Excel using Excel Status Bar

Sometimes you don’t really need to record the total in a separate cell, but rather to quickly check the sum and move on with other tasks. For these situations, it’s great to use the sum option in Excel Status Bar:

  1. add cells in excel status bar

    Figure 6. Add cells in Excel Status Bar

    Select the cells you want to add up

  2. In Excel Status Bar at the bottom of Excel window, look for the Sum option and some other basic statistics of the selected cells (Figure 6)

If you don’t see Sum option in the status bar, there might be several reasons for that:

  • If Excel window is resized, there might be just not enough space for all stats to appear. Simply maximize the window, and the Sum option should appear
  • You might be selecting non-numerical cells. In this case, Status Bar will not reflect some stats like Sum, Min, Max, etc.
  • Sum option might be inactive. To solve this, simply right-click on the Status Bar and select Sum option in the list that appears
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