How to calculate a percentage in Excel

The different functionalities of Excel

Surely on more than one occasion you have had to face the need to calculate a percentage in Excel. If you don't know how to do it, don't worry, because we are going to explain everything you need to know to do it right.

You will see that it is much simpler and faster than you think. Because the Microsoft spreadsheet offers us many functionalities when it comes to performing calculations of different types and complexity.

The different functionalities of Excel

The different functionalities of Excel

The Microsoft spreadsheet is a powerful tool for everything from calculations to data analysis. If it has become so popular worldwide, it is because it offers us the possibility of performing many mathematical operations, from something as simple as a sum to calculation of the standard deviation.

Mathematical and statistical functions

Excel offers us a wide variety of functions related to mathematics and statistics, with which we can perform very precise calculations and analyzes with a high level of detail. Some of the most important are these:

  • Basic mathematical functions. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, averaging, rounding.
  • Statistical functions. Standard deviation, variance, percentile and quartile.
  • Trigonometric functions. Sine cosine tangent.
  • Logarithmic functions.
  • Exponential functions.

Data analysis

Due to the ability of this software to organize and visually display large sets of data, it is one of the most used tools in analysis. For this it has features such as:

  • Tables and graphs. They visually show the data and help you understand it more easily and quickly.
  • Filters and sorting. Users can group information according to different filters, which facilitates analysis.
  • Analysis tools. Excel has advanced analysis tools such as Solver for optimization, Sensitivity Analysis and Hypothesis Testing.

Functions of searching and referencing

These functionalities allow you to locate and relate data that is in different parts of a spreadsheet, and even in different spreadsheets. Some examples are:

  • VLookup and HLookup. Which allow you to perform a search in a column or a row and add the same value in the same row or column of a specified position.
  • Index and Match. With these functions we can search and retrieve data with more flexibility than with the previous ones.
  • Indirect. Returns the reference specified by a text string, thus allowing dynamic references.

Automation with macros and VBA

Advanced users can speed up tasks with macros and VBA. Macros allow you to record sequences of actions and thereby automate repetitive tasks. For its part, VBA is a programming language that allows the user to create complex scripts to automate tasks.

Financial and business models

Excel is a fundamental tool in the field of finance and business planning. For this it has features such as:

  • Financial models. It is capable of creating financial projections, investment analysis and calculating indicators such as ROI (return on investment).
  • Scenario analysis. Through tools such as the Scenario Manager, it allows us to create and compare hypothetical scenarios that are very useful when making decisions.

Advanced data analysis

Although many people don't know it, Excel is also capable of advanced data analysis and applying data mining techniques. To do this, you have these tools:

  • PowerQuery. It is responsible for the extraction, transformation and loading of data to facilitate the processing of large volumes of data from different sources.
  • PowerPivot. It is used in the creation of complex data models and for the integration of large data sets and advanced analysis.
  • Analysis plugins. Microsoft has tools such as Analysis ToolPak to provide additional functions for advanced statistical analysis.

Calculate a percentage in Excel

Calculate a percentage in Excel

If the Microsoft spreadsheet allows us to carry out complex calculation and analysis tasks, it is clear that it is also available to do something as simple as calculating a percentage. Let's see how to do it:

Calculate the percentage of a number

Imagine that you want to know what 25% of 200 is. To solve this operation you have to:

  • Write the base number in a cell.
  • Write the percentage in another cell.
  • In an empty cell write the formula and press Enter.

To do the calculation in the example, we are going to write the base number (200) in cell A1, and the percentage we want to calculate (25) in cell B1. Remember to add the % symbol so that Excel takes into account that it is a percentage, another way to do it is to indicate (0,25). Next, in an empty cell write the formula “=A1*B1”. When you press “Enter” this cell will automatically show you the result.

Calculate the percentage of a total

Calculate the percentage of a total

If you have a part and a total, and you want to calculate what percentage that part represents with respect to the total, do it like this:

  • Write the part in a cell.
  • Write the total in another cell.
  • In an empty cell apply the formula.

Suppose you have 50 units of something and you want to know what percentage they represent within a total set of 200 of those units. In cell A1 we write the part, which in this case is 50. In cell B1 we indicate the total, which is 200. In the empty cell we apply the formula “=A1/B1”. By pressing “Enter” the result will be shown, but not in percentage.

To format the result as a percentage, select the box with the result and go to the “Home” tab. From there select the “Number” group and the percentage format (%). Now the result of the marked cell will be displayed as a percentage.

Excel is a comprehensive tool for mathematics and data analysis. As we have seen, it offers us a wide range of functions and capabilities that range from the simplest to the most complex. And the best thing is that its operation is very intuitive. Therefore, even if you are not a regular user of this software, you can perform basic operations. Now that you know how to calculate a percentage in Excel, It is time to continue moving forward to get the most out of this program.


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