by Natalia Sharashova, updated on
You may think percentage calculations are useful only if you use them for work. But in reality, they help you in everyday life. Do you know how to tip properly? Is this discount a real deal? How much will you pay with this interest rate? Come find the answers to these and other similar questions in this article.
As you most likely already know, percent (or per cent) means one-hundredth part. It is marked by a special sign: %, and represents a part of the whole.
For example, your and your 4 friends are getting a birthday gift for another friend. It costs $250 and you're chipping in together. What percent of the total you're investing in the present?
This is how you usually calculate percents:
Let's see: you're giving away $50. 50/250*100 – and you get 20% of the gift cost.
However, Google Sheets makes the task simpler by calculating some parts for you. Below I'll show you those basic formulas that will help you get different results depending on your task, whether calculating percentage change, percentage of the total, etc.
This is how Google spreadsheet calculates percentage:
Unlike the previous formula, this one doesn't multiply anything by 100. And there's a good reason for that. Simply set the format of cells to percent and Google Sheets will do the rest.
So how will this work on your data? Imagine you keep track of ordered and delivered fruits (columns B and C respectively). To calculate the percentage of what's been received, do the following:
Note. You'll need to go over these steps to create any percentage formula in Google Sheets.
Tip. You can decrease and increase decimal places if necessary using the options from the Google toolbar:
Here's how the result looks on real data:
I removed all decimal places making the formula show the result as a rounded percent.
Here are a few more examples of calculating percentage of a total. Though the previous shows the same, it works great for that example but may not be enough for other data set. Let's see what else Google Sheets offers.
I believe this is the most common case: you have a table with values in column B. Their total resides at the very end of the data: B8. To find the percentage of the total for each fruit, use the same basic formula as before but with a slight difference – an absolute reference to the cell with the total sum.
This type of reference (absolute, with a dollar sign) doesn't change when you copy the formula to other cells. Thus, each new record will be calculated based on the sum in $B$8:
I also formatted the results as percent and left 2 decimals to display:
Now, suppose a fruit appears more than once in your table. What part of the total is composed of all deliveries of that fruit? The SUMIF function will help answer that:
It will sum only numbers belonging to the fruit of interest and divide the result by the total.
See for yourself: column A contains fruits, column B – orders for each fruit, B8 – the total of all orders. E1 has a drop-down list with all possible fruits where I chose to check the total for Prune. Here's the formula for this case:
Tip. Having a drop-down with fruits is completely up to you. Instead, you can put the necessary name right to the formula:
Tip. You can also check a part of the total made by different fruits. Just add up a few SUMIF functions and divide their result by the total:
There's a standard formula you can use to calculate percent change in Google Sheets:
The trick is to figure out which of your values belong to A and to B.
Let's assume you had $50 yesterday. You have saved $20 more and today you have $70. This is 40% more (increase). If, on the contrary, you've spent $20 and have only $30 left, this is 40% less (decrease). This deciphers the formula above and makes it clear which values should be used as A or B:
Let's see how this works in Google Sheets now, shall we?
I have a list of fruits (column A) and I want to check how prices have shifted in this month (column C) compared to the previous one (columns B). Here's the percent change formula I use in Google Sheets:
Tip. Don't forget to apply the percent format and adjust the number of decimal places.
I also used conditional formatting to highlight cells with percent increase with red and percent decrease with green:
This time, I'm tracking total sales (column B) over each month (column A). To make sure my formula works correctly, I should start entering it from the second row of my table – C3:
Copy the formula over all rows with data, apply the percent format, decide on the number of decimals, and voila:
Here I also coloured percentage decrease with red.
If you take the same sales list and decide to calculate percentage change based on January only, you will have to always refer to the same cell – B2. For that, make the reference to this cell absolute instead of relative so it doesn't change after copying the formula to other cells:
Now that you've learned how to operate percentages, I hope getting total and the amount will be a child's play.
Let's imagine you've spent $450 shopping abroad and you'd like to have the taxes returned – 20%. So how much exactly should you expect to receive back? How much is 20% of $450? Here's how you should count:
If you put the total to A2 and the percent to B2, the formula for you is:
Another example: you've found an ad where a used scooter is being sold for $1,500. The price already includes a pleasant 40% discount. But how much would you need to pay for a new scooter like that? The below formula will do the trick:
As the discount is 40%, it means you are to pay 60% (100% – 40%). With these numbers at hand, you can work out the original price (total):
Tip. As Google Sheets stores 60% as one hundredth – 0.6, you can get the same result with these two formulas as well:
The following examples represent the formulas you may need a bit more often than other ones.
A general formula to calculate the raise by some percent is as follows:
If you have some amount in A2 and you need to increase it by 10% in B2, here's your formula:
To make the opposite and decrease the number by a percent, use the same formula as above but replace the plus sign with a minus:
Now assume you have lots of records written in a column. You need to raise each of them by a percentage in that same column. There's a quick way (6 steps to be exact) to do that with our Power Tools add-on:
Note. This is required to avoid problems with formats on the next steps.
You will see %formula% is already written there. You are to add those calculations you want to apply to all formulas at once.
Remember the formula to increase a number by percent?
Well, you already have those amounts in column A – this is your %formula% for the tool. Now you should only add the missing part to calculate the increase: *(1+10%). The whole entry looks like this:
Tip. Feel free to apply any number format back to these formulas.
That's it! All these examples are easy-to-follow and are intended to remind those of you who've forgotten or show those who don't know the basic rules of calculating percentage in Google Sheets.
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