Free Excel Training Online Lesson Five: Totaling Up Automatically

2KO Africa welcomes you back to our free Excel training online. Now that we have had a look at using formulas to get totals quickly, we can go on to Totaling Up Automatically.

Lesson 5

Totaling Up Automatically

We looked at adding a series of numbers together in lesson 4, and we will now go on to letting Excel auto sum / auto calculate for us. Yes, things just keep getting easier and easier, with us as users needing to do less and less.

Let's begin by totaling up a series of cells which are next to each other, which is the most common layout in Excel.

Autosum for a Series of Consecutive Cells

Look at Table 11, below.

Table 11


We are going to use Excel's Autosum Tool, to calculate the values for us in column A.

To begin, we will position the cursor in A8, which is the first blank cell below the data. Then we can use Autosum.

Excel's Autosum tool does what the name suggests - it sums (totals up) a series of numbers automatically.

Warning - beware of anything that is too automated. When we have very little input into the process, things can go wrong, because the computer is guessing / assuming which numbers need to be added.

We will position our cursor in A8, and then ...

1.   Hold down the ALT key on the keyboard and type an =
2.   The result will be as follows (see Table 12)

Table 12


Excel has detected a series of numbers directly above the cell selector, and has automatically selected the cells, and has inserted the SUM() formula, which we learned in Lesson 4.

Since these are indeed the numbers we intended adding together, all that ios left for us to do is press the Enter key. The result is placed into cell A8.

Another way of achieving the same result, is to delete whatever answer may be in cell A8, and then while in A8, to click the Autosum tool, in the Home Menu Tab.

Note - the Autosum tool also appears in the Formula Tab, and looks like this 

If you click the Auto sum button / icon once, the result will be the same as in Table 12 above.

To insert the answer, simply click Autosum button once more. The result is now inserted in the cell, A8.

Let's look at a different example:
To total a block of cells, and place the total sum in another cell, not necessarily adjacent to the original numbers.

Look at Table 13

Table 13


In this exercise, we want to total all values from cells A1 to C7, and we want to place the answer in D7.

Steps to Follow
1. Select cell D8, which is where we want the answer to appear.
2. Click the Autosum tool
3. Select the cells from A1 to C7
4. Press Enter
5. The answer should be 9388
6. The formula should be =SUM(A1:C7)

Check the Answer is Right
1. Highlight the cells with your mouse that you want added together. In this case that would be cells A1 to C7.
2. Whilst the cells are highlighted, look at the bottom right of your screen, and you will see Excel supplies a quick summary of the values highlighted.
3. The sum value in the summary should show 9388.

Let's now expand the exercise by tackling numbers which are not together.

Table 14


In Table 13, we wish to add together all the numbers in the table, and the answer must go in cell B10.

This is how we would tackle this calculation, using Autosum.

Steps to Follow
1. Select cell B10, which is where we want the answer to appear.
2. Click the Autosum tool
3. Select the cells from A1 to C2
4. Type a comma
5. Select the cells from A6 to C7
6. Press Enter
7. The answer should be 4463
8. The formula should be =SUM(A1:C2,A6:C7)

Another way of selecting cells which are NOT adjacent, is to use the CTRL key when selecting. So here are the steps again, using this modification:

Steps to Follow
1. Firstly, delete the value in B10, if there is already a value.
2. Select cell B10, which is where we want the answer to appear.
3. Click the Autosum tool
4. Select the cells from A1 to C2
5. Press and Hold down the CTRL Key on the keyboard
6. Select the cells from A6 to C7
7. Press Enter
8. The answer should be 4463
9. The formula should be =SUM(A1:C2,A6:C7)

Practise on your own

Open the document called Free_Excel_Training_Online_Lesson_5.xlsx

1. Complete an answer for Total Hardware in B9
2. Complete an answer for Total Software in B10
3. Complete an answer for Total HW+SW for Jan to Mar in cell C12

Check your answers:

If you would like to check your answers, click here        (Note the file will open in Excel)

To start lesson 6, click here

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