Thursday, 23 August 2012

Get Word to do your sums

Did you know… you can use formulas in Word tables?

Lots of people say to me "wouldn't it be useful if you could get Word to add up values in tables?"
They are quite surprised to learn that Word can do exactly that!

Now obviously Word isn't going to replace Excel for doing calculations.  It's not what Word is designed for, whereas it is exactly what Excel is designed for.  If you have a lot of data to work with, or if you have complex calculations then Excel is still the best place to do that.

But sometimes you just want to add up a few numbers in a table and, to save you reaching for the calculator, here's how.

First you need to set up a table with some numbers in.  

With the cursor in the empty cell where you want the formula result to appear, go to the Table Tools Layout tab and click the Formula button in the Data grouping.

This will bring up a dialog box with a suggested formula.  In this example the formula says SUM(ABOVE) and this will add all of the numbers above the cell where your formula is, in the same column. 

This is the formula we want to use so click OK.
The result is then shown in the table.

This feature works really well in templates for invoices or standard reports.  In the table below I have created a simple invoice table.  All of the numbers in the Total column are calculated using Word formulas, which I have shown on the right.  I also used the Number format drop-down in the formula dialog box to select a currency format.

Word isn't as clever as Excel and it doesn't automatically update formulas when the numbers change.
To update your formula result to reflect any changes, select the cell with the formula in it (or select the entire table if you have used several formulas) and press F9.

There are other formulas you can use and there are other ways of referencing the cells to include in the formula.

This is a topic that I would typically cover on an Advanced Word course, or on any of my tailored training sessions if you so choose.
Alternatively, if you think this is a bit too complicated then send your documents to me and I can add the formulas in for you. 

Joanne Hansell

Customised, affordable IT Training.  
For your business.  For you.

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