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When you need to subtract values in Google Sheets, you have several options in terms of methods. In addition to using the minus sign, you can also use the MINUS and SUM functions to subtract. All three can be used by typing the values or using cell references, and they work dates as well as with numbers. Additionally, you can combine these methods with the ARRAYFORMULA function to subtract a number from a range of cells or subtract the values in one column from those in another column.

In this guide, you will learn three different methods of subtracting values and cells in Google Sheets. You have step-by-step instructions on how to use the minus sign, the MINUS function, and the SUM function to subtract values. Additionally, you have examples using different types of values, like numbers and dates, as well as examples of subtracting multiple cells and entire columns.

Is there a Formula in Google Sheets to Subtract?

The MINUS function in Google Sheets can be used to subtract one value from another. The function syntax is MINUS(value1, value2), where value2 will be subtracted from value1. For example, to subtract 3 from 9, you can use the following: MINUS(9, 3) = 6.

How to Subtract Numbers or Cells in Google Sheets: 3 Ways

There are three main ways to subtract values in Google Sheets: the minus sign, the MINUS function, and the SUM function.

How to Use the Minus Sign for Subtraction?

Follow the steps below to subtract numerical values using the minus sign. You can also use cell references if you prefer.

  1. 1. In an empty cell, type the equal sign and the value from which you want to subtract (minuend).
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Equal Sign First Value
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Equal Sign & First Value
  1. 2. Add the minus sign, then the value you want to subtract (subtrahend).
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Minus Sign Second Value
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Minus Sign & Second Value
  1. 3. Press ‘Enter’ to see the result.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Result with Minus Sign
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Result with Minus Sign

How to Use the MINUS Function for Subtraction?

Follow the steps below to use the MINUS function to subtract cells. In the following examples, I will use cell references instead of hardcoding the values into the formulas.

  1. 1. Type the values you want to subtract into separate cells.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Type Values
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Type Values
  1. 2. Type the equal sign followed by the MINUS function in an empty cell.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Add MINUS Function
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Add MINUS Function
  1. 3. Select the cell with the minuend, followed by a comma, then the cell with subtrahend.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Add Values
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Add Values
  1. 4. Close the parenthesis and press ‘Enter’ to see the result.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Result with MINUS Function
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Result with MINUS Function

How to Use the SUM Function for Subtraction?

Follow the steps below to subtract cells with numerical values using the SUM function.

  1. 1. In an empty cell, type the equal sign followed by the SUM function.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Add SUM Function
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Add SUM Function
  1. 2. Select the cell with the minuend as the first parameter, followed by a comma.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Add Minuend
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Add Minuend
  1. 3. After the comma, type in the minus sign before the subtrahend and close the parenthesis.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Add Minus Sign Subtrahend
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Add Minus Sign & Subtrahend
  1. 4. Press ‘Enter’ to see the result.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Result with SUM Function
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Result with SUM Function
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How do I Subtract Dates in Google Sheets?

You can subtract dates using the methods shown above to get the difference in days. However, you can also use the DATEDIF function to access more options in terms of units.

  1. 1. In separate cells, type the end date and the start date you want to subtract from it.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Type Dates
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Type Dates
  1. 2. In an empty cell, type the equal sign and select the cell with the end date, which is the minuend in this case.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Equal Sign End Date
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Equal Sign & End Date
  1. 3. Add the minus sign and select the start date as the subtrahend.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Minus Sign Start Date
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Minus Sign & Start Date
  1. 4. Press ‘Enter’ to see the result.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Result with Minus Sign 2
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Result with Minus Sign
  1. 5. The MINUS function can also be used to get the difference between the dates.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Result with MINUS Function 2
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Result with MINUS Function
  1. 6. The SUM function is the third method you can use to subtract these dates.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Result with SUM Function 2
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Result with SUM Function
  1. 7. Finally, you can also use DATEDIF for this purpose.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Result with DATEDIF Function
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Result with DATEDIF Function
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How do I Subtract Multiple Cells in Google Sheets?

To subtract a number from a range of cells, use the MINUS function together with the ARRAYFORMULA function. Type the ARRAYFORMULA function, followed by the MINUS function. Select the range of cells as the first parameter, followed by a comma and the value or cell reference you want to subtract.

  1. 1. Type the values you want to use as minuends into separate cells. In another cell, type the subtrahend.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Type Values 2
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Type Values
  1. 2. In an empty cell, type the ARRAYFORMULA function, followed by the MINUS function.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples ARRAYFORMULA MINUS Functions
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - ARRAYFORMULA & MINUS Functions
  1. 3. Select the cells containing the minuend values, followed by a comma.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Add Minuend Values
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Add Minuend Values
  1. 4. Select the cell with the subtrahend.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Add Subtrahend
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Add Subtrahend
  1. 5. Close both parentheses and press ‘Enter’ to see the results.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Result with ARRAYFORMULA MINUS Functions
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Result with ARRAYFORMULA & MINUS Functions

How do I Subtract Columns in Google Sheets?

Follow the steps below to subtract the values in one column from the values in another column with one formula by combining the minus sign or the MINUS function with the ARRAYFORMULA function.

  1. 1. Open the spreadsheet with your columns of values.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Open Sheet with Values
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Open Sheet with Values
  1. 2. In an empty cell, type the ARRAYFORMULA function followed by the MINUS function.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples ARRAYFORMULA MINUS Functions 2
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - ARRAYFORMULA & MINUS Functions
  1. 3. Select the column with the minuends followed by a comma.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Select Minuends
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Select Minuends
  1. 4. Select the column with the subtrahends.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Select Subtrahends
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Select Subtrahends
  1. 5. Close both parentheses and press ‘Enter’ to see the results.
How to Subtract in Google Sheets Formula Examples Column of Results
How to Subtract in Google Sheets (Formula & Examples) - Column of Results

Conclusion

There are different methods you can use to subtract values in Google Sheets: the minus sign, the MINUS function, and the SUM function. You know you can type the values directly into the formula or use references to the cells containing your values. You can also use these methods to subtract full dates to get the difference in days.

However, if you need more unit options, you also know you can use the DATEDIF function instead. Finally, you also know that by combining any of these methods with the ARRAYFORMULA function, you can subtract a value from multiple cells at the same time or subtract the values in one column from those in another column using a single formula.

Hady ElHady
Hady is Content Lead at Layer.

Hady has a passion for tech, marketing, and spreadsheets. Besides his Computer Science degree, he has vast experience in developing, launching, and scaling content marketing processes at SaaS startups.

Originally published Feb 15 2023, Updated Jun 26 2023

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