Create Calculations in Word Tables Using Formulas
by Avantix Learning Team | Updated October 9, 2021
Applies to: Microsoft® Word® 2013, 2016, 2019 or 365 (Windows)
You can insert formulas in Word tables to perform calculations. These formulas can include functions such as SUM or AVERAGE or basic operators. When you insert formulas in Word tables, you are really inserting fields so the fields will need to be updated if the data in the table changes. For more complex calculations, it’s usually best to create formulas in Excel where they will update automatically.
Formulas and functions in Word tables only work with numbers. You can’t perform text calculations or output text.
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Note: Buttons and Ribbon tabs may display in a different way (with or without text) depending on your version of Word, the size of your screen and your Control Panel settings. For Word 365 users, Ribbon tabs may appear with different names. For example, the Table Tools Design tab may appear as Table Design.
To insert a formula in a cell in a Word table, you’ll need to use the Function command on the Table Tools Layout or Table Layout tab in the Ribbon:
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Understanding formula syntax
When you insert a table in Word, each column and row are identified like cells in Excel worksheets and each cell is assigned a cell reference. In a Word table, the first column would be column A and the first row would be row 1 so the first cell would be identified as A1. Therefore, you can create calculations that refer to cells (such as =A1+A2).
In Word and Excel, you can use the same basic operators:
- addition (+)
- subtraction (-)
- multiplication (*)
- division (/)
Typically, formulas in Word tables are created using common functions such as SUM, AVERAGE, MIN, MAX or COUNT and refer to a range. They must start with an equal sign (=).
You can refer to ranges of cells using ABOVE, LEFT, RIGHT or BELOW as the arguments for functions. If you’re trying to sum the cells at the bottom of a column, the formula would be =SUM(ABOVE). You can also combine these arguments. For example, you could enter a formula =SUM(ABOVE,LEFT) and it would sum all cells that are above and to the left of that cell. Functions can also refer to cell references such as =SUM(C1:C10). You can also refer to individual cells such =SUM(B1,C1,D5).
Word tables can also perform more complex calculations using the IF function with the syntax =IF(test,true,false). For example, =IF(A5>=1000,0,50) could be used to calculate a shipping cost of 50 if orders are less than 1000. You can also use the AND and OR functions with the IF function.
Inserting a formula in a table
To insert a formula in a table:
- Click in the cell where you want to enter a formula.
- Click the Table Tools Layout or Table Layout tab in the Ribbon.
- Select Function (fx) in the Data group. A dialog box appears. Word will typically insert a function and arguments in the Formula box.
- If you want to accept the suggested formula, click OK. If you want to change the formula, click in the Formula box and enter a formula (starting with =). You can also choose other functions from the Paste Function drop-down menu.
- If necessary, select a format from the Format drop-down menu.
- Click OK. Word inserts the formula as a field and displays the results.
The Function dialog box appears as follows with a formula and a format selected:
Updating a formula
If the original data changes, you can right-click the Formula field and select Update from the drop-down menu or press F9. If you want to update all formulas in a table, select all of the cells in the table and press F9. To select the entire table, click the four arrows on the top left of the table.
Changing a formula
To change a formula in a table:
- Right-click the formula or error. A drop-down menu appears.
- Select Edit field.
- Make the desired changes.
- Click OK.
Updating all fields
To update all fields in all tables:
- Press Ctrl + A to select all.
- Press F9.
Formula fields are just one type of field you can use in Word. There are many other fields that can insert variable information in Word documents.
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