Calculate Values in a Table: MS Word

Dennis Faas's picture

When you have a list of numbers and you want to show totals, you don't need to start Windows' built-in Calculator to total them.

MS Word can calculate totals and averages and do other simple calculations. If the numbers change, you'll need to update the calculations, though. Place the insertion point in a blank cell below or to the right of the numbers you want to total.

To do so:

  • Click the AutoSum (looks like a sideways letter M) button on the Tables and Borders toolbar to calculate totals automatically.
  • Choose Table | Formula to make other types of calculations instead. This reveals the dialog box.
  • If the numbers change, you must recalculate the formula. To do this, select the formula and press the F9 key.

When you place a formula in a table, the numbers appear with gray shading. They won't print in gray though. The gray shading simply lets you know that you have a formula, not just typed numbers.

You can also total figures in paragraphs. The Calculate function in MS Word ignores any text that isn't a number, except for currency symbols, periods and commas, which it recognizes when these are a part of a number. For operations other than addition, you must include the mathematical operator. To force a calculation out of precedence order, enclose the expression in parentheses.

You can add the Tools Calculate button to any toolbar or shortcut menu by following the steps below:

  1. Select Tools | Customize.
  2. Click the Commands tab.
  3. In the Categories column, choose All Commands.
  4. Scroll down until you find Tools Calculate.
  5. Drag the command to the Tools menu and place it wherever you like or, you could just drag it to your Toolbar.
  6. It may appear grayed out as Tools Calculate is only available when you have selected text.

By default, the Calculate command will add any set of selected numbers separated by white space. Word temporarily displays the result in the status bar and also places it on the clipboard.

(c) Carol Bratt, all rights reserved. Used with permission. Duplication is forbidden without express consent of author. Visit Carol's web site to learn more tips like this one!

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