Excel Running Total Formula

Excel running balance formula

Quite often we want to see a running total or running balance column for our data.  There’s a couple of ways we can do this, both are dead easy.

Let’s take the table below; say we want to add a running total to column G.

Excel running balance formula

Excel Running Total Formula

Option 1:

Use a simple = + calculation in column G that goes as follows:

In cell G3 =E3

In cell G4 =G3+E4

In cell G5 =G4+E5

And so on….

You can Auto Fill from G4 to the bottom as your formula remains the same from this point on.

Excel running total formula

The problem with this approach is that you can’t add or delete rows without breaking the formulas.

The easy way to fix this is to enter the formula again and copy it down.  But since we’re all busy, and if you’re constantly adding to or changing your table, option 2 is a more efficient solution.

Option 2 (preferred):

Use a SUM formula with a combination of absolute and relative references.

Putting our running balance SUM formula in column I it would read:

Row 3 =SUM($E$3:E3)

Notice the combination of both absolute and relative references in the SUM range.

Now when we copy the formula down the column the relative reference will automatically increase by one row.

Row 4 =SUM($E$3:E4)

Row 5 =SUM($E$3:E5)….and so on.

Excel running total with absolute and relative references

Benefits of this approach:

1)      The formula on the first row isn’t different to the rest, so you won’t make a mistake and copy the wrong formula into new cells.

2)      When you insert or delete rows the formula automatically updates itself, and you only have to copy the formula from the row above/below into the new cells.

Download the workbook to practice here.

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  1. Mort Wakeland says

    My situation is different, for running totals in that it needs to be continuous. Say Jan 2015 to Dec 2015, 12 month period for the total. As soon as one would enter a figure for Jan 2016, the Jan 2015 amount would drop and the new running total would be Feb 2015 to Jan 2016. Thank you bunches Mynda & Phil….Mort in Dallas, TX

      • Morton Wakeland says

        Thanks Catalin – this may(?) benefit some. Let me see how to upload a simple lil file. At the present time, I’m simply trying to get the data into a worksheet via a UserForm, then worry about data manipulation. See? When I get to data manipulation, will post, OK? Best Sunday wishes to all, Mort in Dallas, TX

  2. Pat Shikoski says

    Pretty new to Excel and I cannot figure out why the SUM of my #s in a column does not go in the SUM column.

    • Mynda Treacy says

      Hi Pat,

      That sounds odd. Are you able to show us the Excel workbook so we can take a look. You can send it to us via our Help Desk.



  3. Cherie Daniel says

    I want to make a spreadsheet that works like a checkbook. A column for date, one for description, one for add, one for subt, and one for balance. The balance column should pick up the balance brought forward and continue on from that point, adding or subtracting according to the column the figure is placed in. That way I will have a running balance of the check book that I know is accurate. It’s too easy to make a mistake when entered manually. Can you make one for me. I don’t have any other needs for excell so don’t want to take an entire course. Thanks for your feedback.

    • says

      Hi Cherie,

      From what you’ve described you don’t need me to create a workbook for you. Just put your column headers in, use the running total formula in the above tutorial and start entering your data. Job done.

      Kind regards,


  4. Jeff says

    This great, how would I do the same thing for a Pivot Table that contains a column of numbers that I want to have a running total of? By creating a measure…not sure of the calculation though

    • Mynda Treacy says

      Hi Jeff,

      If you have Excel 2010 you can go into your Value Field Settings and on the Show Values As tab choose ‘Running Total In’ from the list.

      Kind regards,


  5. Steve B says

    I created a checkbook in excel 2010 and i was able to figure out the running balance which basically adds, subtracts accordingly and it gives me a running balance. My question is, is there a way to display that running balance (considering it keeps changing rows with each new entry) in another cell? I am trying to create a cell near the top of the worksheet that also displays my current balance and well as within the worksheet. Any thoughts? Thanks you

    • Mynda Treacy says

      Hi Steve,

      Let’s say your running balance is in column C and you want to find the last value in the column. You could use this formula in cell A1, or any near the top:


      I hope that’s what you were after. If not let me know.

      Kind regards,