How to Sum the Absolute Values of All Numbers in a Range in Excel

In this article, we will learn How to Sum the Absolute Values of All Numbers in a Range in Excel.


In Mathematics, there is an operator name absolute value. It only returns positive numbers but don't change the numerical value. For example absolute value of -12.5 be +12.5 and absolute value of +12.5 be +12.5

Excel provides a function to operate absolute value using the ABS function. For example, the square root of negative numbers is error in Excel. So use ABS function inside the square root operation in Excel. Or obtaining subtraction of two values and doesn't care about the sign of result. Let's learn ABS function syntax and an example to illustrate the function usage as shown below

Sum only positive numbers in Excel

For this we will make a formula to sum also negative values as positive values. So far sum function is an obvious choice and The ABS function just changes the negative numbers to positive numbers but doesn't change the positive number.

Formula syntax

= { SUM(ABS(array)) }

Array : list of values given using array cell reference (A2:A502)

Note : don’t use the curly braces using the keyboard symbol. Use the Ctrl + Shift + Enter to apply the curly braces as shown below.

Example :

All of these might be confusing to understand. Let's understand how to use the function using an example. Here we are given some numbers having positive and negative both distances. We just need to find the sum after having absolute of all. 

Use the formula:

{ =SUM(ABS(B2:B11)) }

Note : don’t use the curly braces using the keyboard symbol. Use the Ctrl + Shift + Enter to apply the curly braces as shown below.

As you can see in the above image the sum of values is there. You can verify this. This is correct unless you have made an error.

When and how to use ABS function?

You can use this function where values are always positive. Like distance.

Supply any expression to the ABS function, which will result in a number. ABS function will return the distance of that number from 0 on the number line. And this what absolute value means

Here are all the observational notes using the formula in Excel
Notes :

  1. The formula only works with numbers.
  2. The formula returns the number rounded off to any decimal places.
  3. Negative argument as decimal rounds the number to integer side.
  4. Blank cells as an argument takes as zero value and returns 0 as result, so make sure to check blank cells before.
  5. The function returns #VALUE! Error if the text value or numbers as text value.

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