Word Rockstar Part 3 – Add a formula to a table (without using Excel)

Entry the third in this series on tips and tricks that will help make you a Word rockstar, we'll look at how to use a formula in a Word table - without having to embed an Excel spreadsheet.

Why using Word Formulas makes sense

Because you might use Word to create simple invoices, or simple sales reports, or other types of simple calculations. Could you use Excel and link to Excel data to accomplish the same thing? Yes, you could, but again, for simple tables and calculations, it's often not worth the trouble to link and manage two files instead of one.

As the saying goes, sometimes the juice isn't worth the squeeze.

Best of all, using a formula lets you change the data in the Word table, so updating the info is just a click or two away.

When you insert table formulas in Word, you insert a field that performs calculations on values in other table cells. Formulas always start with an equal sign (=). They often refer to the cell addresses from which they gather the data for their calculations. These cell addresses can be linked together with standard mathematical operators. These include the plus sign (+), minus sign (-), multiplication sign (*), and division sign (/), among others. You can also perform functions, like SUM, on a cell range in a table. So, a formula might be expressed “=SUM(Above),” which adds the values of the cells above the cell into which you inserted this formula.

Just like with Excel, a cell formula begins with an equal sign (=). It's then followed by the cell addresses upon which to perform the mathematical operations. For example, to add the cells above cell A5 and show the formula result in cell A5, click into cell A5. Then insert a formula field that looks like either: =A1+A2+A3+A4 or =SUM(ABOVE).

Pretty cool, right? And as you might guess, you can also use “LEFT,” “RIGHT,” and “BELOW” to refer to ranges of adjacent cells.

And, as with Excel, you can enter a cell range by typing the cell address of the upper-left cell in the cell range, followed by a colon (:), followed by the cell address of the lower-right cell in the range. For example, you could also type =SUM(A1:A4) into the “Formula:” text box to add the contents of cells A1 through A4.

How to Insert a Formula in Word

Just follow these steps and you'll be on your way:

  1. Click into the table cell where you want to display the answer to the formula.
  2. Go to the “Table Tools” contextual tab and then click “Layout.”
  3. Click the “Formula” button in the “Data” group to open the “Formula” dialog box.
  4. If necessary, click into the “Formula:” text box and enter the desired formula.
    To format the display of the number, if desired, use the “Number format:” drop-down.
  5. To select a function to add to the formula in the “Formula:” text box, if needed, use the “Paste function:” drop-down.
  6. Click the “OK” button to insert the formula field into the selected cell.

So, there it is. If you followed all lessons in this series, you now know how to add a clickable checkbox. How to change the formatting of text. And how to use a formula in a Word table.

Three use cases in Word that come up more commonly than you might think, and three skills you can use to get yourself just a little more famous (and valuable) around the office...

Three ways, that is, to become a Word Rockstar!


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