Excel Tutorial: How To Calculate Percentage In Excel


Understanding how to calculate percentages in Excel is essential for anyone working with data and numbers in their professional or personal life. Whether you're analyzing sales figures, tracking financial performance, or creating reports, knowing how to accurately calculate percentages can make a significant difference in the quality of your work. In this tutorial, we will cover the fundamentals of calculating percentages in Excel, including basic formulas, formatting, and practical examples to help you master this important skill.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding how to calculate percentages in Excel is essential for data and number analysis.
  • Basic formulas and formatting are fundamental for accurate percentage calculations in Excel.
  • Built-in functions for percentage calculations can simplify the process and provide flexibility.
  • Calculating percentage change and handling errors are important aspects of mastering percentage calculations in Excel.
  • Practicing and exploring Excel's percentage calculation tools is encouraged for skill improvement.

Understanding formulas

When it comes to calculating percentages in Excel, understanding the basic formula is essential. This allows you to accurately calculate percentages for various data sets within your spreadsheet.

A. Explaining the basic formula for calculating percentage in Excel
  • Step 1: Begin with an equal sign

  • To start a formula in Excel, you always begin with an equal sign (=).

  • Step 2: Reference the cell containing the number

  • Next, you reference the cell containing the number you want to calculate the percentage of.

  • Step 3: Multiply by 100

  • After referencing the cell, you then multiply the number by 100 to convert it to a percentage.

  • Step 4: Add the percentage symbol

  • Finally, you add the percentage symbol (%) at the end of the formula to indicate that the result is a percentage.

B. Demonstrating how to set up the formula in a cell
  • Step 1: Select the cell for the percentage calculation

  • First, select the cell where you want the percentage calculation to appear.

  • Step 2: Input the formula

  • Next, input the formula using the steps outlined above, referencing the appropriate cell containing the number.

  • Step 3: Press Enter

  • Once the formula is inputted, press Enter to calculate and display the percentage in the selected cell.

Formatting cells

When working with percentage calculations in Excel, it is crucial to properly format the cells in order to accurately display the results. Proper formatting ensures that the percentages are represented correctly and are easy to read.

A. Discussing the importance of formatting cells for percentage calculations

Formatting cells for percentage calculations is important because it allows you to easily identify and interpret the results. Without proper formatting, percentages may appear as decimal numbers or as simple fractions, which can be confusing and misleading.

B. Providing step-by-step instructions for formatting cells to display percentages

Here are the step-by-step instructions for formatting cells to display percentages:

1. Select the cells you want to format

  • Click and drag to select the cells where you want to display percentages.

2. Open the Format Cells dialog box

  • Right-click on the selected cells and choose "Format Cells" from the context menu, or go to the "Home" tab, click on the "Number" dropdown menu, and select "Percentage" from the list.

3. Set the number of decimal places (optional)

  • In the Format Cells dialog box, you can specify the number of decimal places you want to display for the percentages. This step is optional and can be customized based on your preferences.

4. Click "OK" to apply the formatting

  • Once you have selected the desired formatting options, click "OK" to apply the changes to the selected cells.

Following these steps will ensure that the selected cells are formatted to display percentages correctly, making it easier for you to work with percentage calculations in Excel.

Using built-in functions

When working with percentages in Excel, built-in functions can save you time and effort by automatically calculating the percentage for you. There are several functions available for this purpose, each suitable for different calculations. Let's take a look at how to use these functions effectively.

Introducing the built-in functions for percentage calculations

Excel provides several built-in functions for percentage calculations, including:

  • PERCENTAGE: This function calculates the percentage of a given number.
  • PERCENTILE: This function returns the nth percentile of a data set.
  • PERCENTRANK: This function returns the rank of a value in a data set as a percentage of the data set.

Showing examples of how to use these functions in different scenarios

Let's explore some examples of how to use these built-in functions in different scenarios:

  • Example 1: Calculating percentage of a total: To find the percentage of a total, you can use the formula =PART/WHOLE * 100, where PART is the part value and WHOLE is the whole value.
  • Example 2: Calculating percentage change: To calculate the percentage change between two numbers, you can use the formula =((NEW-OLD)/OLD) * 100, where NEW is the new value and OLD is the old value.
  • Example 3: Finding percentile rank: If you want to find the percentile rank of a specific value in a data set, you can use the PERCENTRANK function, which returns the rank of a value as a percentage of the data set.

Calculating percentage change

In Excel, calculating percentage change can be a valuable tool for analyzing data and trends. Whether you are tracking sales growth, stock performance, or any other kind of change over time, understanding how to calculate percentage change in Excel is crucial.

A. Explaining how to calculate percentage change using Excel

1. Using the formula

To calculate percentage change in Excel, you can use the following formula:

=(New Value - Old Value) / Old Value

This formula will give you the percentage change between the old and new values.

2. Formatting the result

After entering the formula, you can format the result to display as a percentage. Simply select the cell containing the formula, and then click on the "Percentage" button in Excel's Home tab.

B. Providing real-life examples for better understanding

1. Sales growth

For example, if you want to calculate the percentage change in sales from one month to the next, you can use the formula mentioned above. Let's say the sales in January were $10,000 and in February were $12,000. Using the formula, you would get a percentage change of 20%.

2. Stock performance

Another example could be calculating the percentage change in the stock price of a company over a period of time. By using the formula in Excel, you can easily track the percentage change and make informed investment decisions.

By understanding how to calculate percentage change in Excel, you can analyze data more effectively and make better-informed decisions.

Handling errors

When working with percentages in Excel, it is common to encounter errors. Understanding these errors and knowing how to troubleshoot them is crucial for accurate calculations.

A. Discussing common errors when calculating percentages
  • Incorrect cell references

    One common mistake when calculating percentages in Excel is using incorrect cell references. This can result in inaccurate calculations and errors in your data.

  • Dividing by zero

    Attempting to divide by zero can lead to errors when calculating percentages. It's important to identify and avoid this error to prevent inaccuracies in your calculations.

  • Formatting issues

    Improper formatting of cells can cause errors when calculating percentages. Understanding the correct formatting options for percentages is essential for accurate calculations.

B. Offering troubleshooting tips for resolving errors
  • Double-check cell references

    Before calculating percentages, double-check your cell references to ensure they are accurate. This can help prevent errors caused by referencing the wrong cells.

  • Avoid dividing by zero

    Be mindful of any calculations that involve division and ensure that you are not dividing by zero. Implement measures to handle zero values appropriately to avoid errors.

  • Format cells correctly

    Ensure that cells containing percentage values are formatted properly. Use the percentage formatting option in Excel to display and calculate percentages accurately.


In conclusion, this tutorial has covered the basics of calculating percentages in Excel. We discussed the use of the percentage formula, as well as the percentage formatting tool. It is important to remember to always use the correct cell references and formatting options to ensure accurate calculations.

We encourage you to practice these techniques and further explore Excel's percentage calculation tools to become more proficient in using this powerful software for your financial and data analysis needs.

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