Jan 2018

google sheets

how to use SUM and MATH functions on google sheet

In the browser and Chromebook versions of Google Sheets, the toolbar is located above the worksheet. It contains buttons and drop-down menus for common commands and functions, which are alternate ways of expressing mathematical formulas. The Greek Sigma symbol is a drop-down menu for various math functions:


The toolbar and functions are not displayed in the Google Sheets app for Android and iOS, although it is possible to manually type the functions on mobile devices.


Here are some examples that use the SUM function:


Example: Single-column addition :

1 ) In column A, type three single-digit numbers in the first three rows (A1, A2 and A3). You can use the same numbers from the previous exercise demonstrating formulas.


2 ) Highlight the cells


3 ) Click the Sigma symbol to bring up a list of common math functions.


4 ) Select SUM.


5 ) In the cell A4 (see example below), you will see =SUM (A1:A3). Sheets is asking, “show the result for the sum of all numbers between cell A1 and A3?”


6 ) Press Return/Enter to confirm.


7 ) The sum of the three cells is shown in cell A4.


Example: Multiple Column addition and average:

1 ) In column A, type three numbers in the first three rows (A1, A2 and A3).


2 ) In column B, type three different numbers in the first three rows (B1, B2 and B3).


3 ) In column C, type three more numbers in the first three rows (C1, C2 and C3).


4 ) Highlight cells in the first row (A1, A2 and A3). Do not highlight any other cells.


5 ) Click the Sigma symbol, and select SUM.


6 ) In the cell A4 (immediately below the highlighted cells), you will see =SUM (A1:A3).


7 ) Press Return/Enter on your keyboard to confirm.


8 ) The sum of the three cells is shown in cell A4.


9 ) Select cell A4 to highlight it.


10 ) You will see a small dot in the corner of cell A4. Grab it with your mouse and drag it to the right, over the empty cells B4 and C4.


11 ) Auto-fill will be activated. Cells B4 and C4 will show the totals of their respective columns.


Example: To calculate the average of all three sums:

1 ) Highlight cells A4, B4 and C4.


2 ) Click the Sigma symbol, and select AVERAGE.


3 ) In cell D4, you will see =AVERAGE (A4:C4).


4 ) Press Return/Enter on your keyboard to confirm.


5 ) The average will appear in cell D4.


You can experiment with other functions. Common ones include:


  • COUNT: Counts the number of highlighted cells with numerical data in them.


  • MAX and MIN: displays the highest and lowest numerical value in the selected cells.


You can see a full list of functions by selecting More functions under the Sigma symbol. The list is exhaustive and covers mathematical, business, and practical functions. For instance, Example: =TODAY () displays today’s date in the cell.


As with Excel, it’s possible to combine/nest functions in Sheets. Here’s an example:

=SUM (A1:A3) =AVERAGE (B1:B3)

This function will add the sum of the first column of numbers to the average of the second column of numbers.


For complicated functions or nested functions, I often type them in a different text editor and then paste them into Sheets. It’s quicker to make changes this way.


All functions must begin with an equal sign (=). Using the wrong type of data in a function will also generate errors. Example: Attempting to use AVERAGE () on a column and mistakenly including the header text in the range will generate an error, because text cannot be averaged.



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