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Microsoft Excel - Calculate percentages

Sometimes percentages can be frustrating because it’s not always easy to remember what we learned about them in school. Let Excel do the work for you – simple formulas can help you find the percentage of a total, for example, or the percentage difference between two numbers.


Find the percentage of a total

Say that your company sold $125,000 this quarter, and you need to find out what percentage $20,000 is of the total.

  1. To find out, divide $20,000 by $125,000. Here’s the formula in cell C2: =B2/A2. The result is shown as 0.16 because cell C2 is not formatted as a percentage.

    $125,000 in cell A2, $20,000 in cell B2, and 0.16 in cell C3

  2. To format 0.16 as a percentage, (which will also remove the zero) on the Home tab, click the Percentage button.

    If you are using Excel Online, click Home > Number Format > Percentage.

    Percentage button on the Home tab

    Now we see that $20,000 is 16% of $125,000.

    $125,000 in cell a2, $20,000 in cell b2, and 16% in cell c2

    Note: Formatting is the key to getting answers shown in percentages. Make sure your your worksheet is set to display numbers as percentages. 

Find the percentage of change between two numbers

A company sold $485,000 in 2011 and $598,634 in 2012. What’s the percent change between the two years?

  1. First, click in cell B3 to apply the Percentage format to the cell. On the Home tab, click the Percentage button.

    If you are using Excel Online, click Home > Number Format > Percentage.

  2. In cell B3, divide the second year’s sales ($598,634.00) by the first year ($485,000.00), and then subtract 1.

$485,000 in cell A2, $598,634 in cell B2, and 23% in cell B3, the percentage of change between the two numbers

  1. Here’s the formula in cell C3. =(B2/A2)-1. The percentage of change between the two years is 23%.

Notice the parentheses around (B2/A2). Excel calculates what’s in parentheses first, and then subtracts the 1.


For more information, please visit the Excel help center.

If you have any questions, come by the Help Desk at Hardman & Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center Room 105, call 646-1840, or email us at help@nmsu.edu.




Keywords:microsoft excel use to calculate percentages in workbook formulas   Doc ID:75301
Owner:John B.Group:New Mexico State University
Created:2017-08-04 09:43 MSTUpdated:2018-01-12 11:55 MST
Sites:New Mexico State University
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