How to Subtract One Cell from Another in Excel – Subtract Function 

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Everyone has learned basic arithmetic operations in school life such as addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division. Today, you will get to know how subtraction is used in Excel because in practical life Excel plays an important role.

Subtraction demands you to learn how to subtract one number from another and this is how you will work on it in Excel. How to subtract one cell from another in Excel is the main thing you will learn in this post. Excel spreadsheets let you subtract anything like percentages, days, numbers, months, hours, minutes, and even seconds. Furthermore, you can subtract text strings, lists, and matrices as well.

How would you do this?

Here is the thing:

Subtraction Syntax in Excel

In Excel, to be clear, you will not find a direct minus function. For this simple subtraction function, you can use the minus sign (-). Below you can see the basic subtraction formula:


Suppose you need to subtract 50 from 100, you will type it as:


And the result will be: =50

Below are simple steps to follow when you need to enter the formula in the sheet:

  • Type the equal sign (=) in a cell in which you need the results.
  • Now, add the first number followed by the minus sign and then the second number.
  • Press ENTER key from the keyboard and your procedure will be done.

Not only two numbers, but you can add more than one arithmetic operation in a single formula. Suppose you need to subtract a few numbers from 100, you have to enter all those numbers separated by a minus sign:


With the help of parenthesis, you can signify which part of the formula should be answered first. For instance:

= (100-10) / (80-20)

All done!

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How to Subtract One Cell from Another in Excel?

The minus formula is helpful when you need to subtract one cell from another. However, you will have to provide cell references rather than original numbers:

=cell_1 – cell_2 

Here is the formula when you need to subtract the number in B2 from the number in A2:


In case you need to add cell references, below are simple steps for this. On the other hand, you don’t need to add them manually because they can be added by selecting the corresponding cells.

Put the equal sign (=) in the cell in which you need to have the output.

Click on a cell that has a number from which you need the other number to be subtracted. By default, you will notice the reference is added to the formula in A2.

Put a minus sign (-).

Now, click on the cell that contains a number to be subtracted. It will simply add the reference to the formula (B2).

Press ENTER key to end this formula.

All done!

How to Subtract One Cell from Another in Excel with Paste Special Function?

Paste Special is another great way that can help you with subtraction. It clearly helps when you need to subtract a specific value from an entire column. Let’s suppose you have a dataset from which you need to subtract 100 from all numbers.

Follow these steps:

  • Put the value to be subtracted from the column in a blank cell. Here, in this example, we have added value in cell D1.

  • Copy cell D1.

  • Choose an entire column that contains subtraction values.
  • Right-click and select the Paste Special option.

  • As the paste option, you need to select Values from the special dialog box.

  • Choose to Subtract from the Operations menu.

  • Press Ok.

Now, simply delete the value you have entered in the cell in Step 1.

All set!

Let’s Wrap Up:

This is how to subtract one cell from another in Excel by using multiple approaches. Hopefully, this post has a lot of informational data for you. You must try the above-mentioned methods at least once. Excel has a clear-cut scope of growth that’s why you need to learn almost everything. Keep practicing and find multiple solutions to your queries. This is how Excel works and you can manage the tasks smoothly.

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