You’ve probably seen a running total formula like this before:

= SUM($E$3:E4)

You know the one, where the first cell reference is absolute and the second isn’t so that when you copy the formula down the column the range increases by one row at a time. Clever huh.

However when you put a formula like this in an Excel Table it’s likely to work ok the first time but if you try to add a row to your table you’ll get mixed results and often the formula will skip a row and do some funky things it shouldn’t.

For example, the table below contains a running total formula in column C before I add a new row to the table (column D shows the actual formula in column C):

Now when I add a new record in row 14 the Table automatically grows, as it should, but the formulas that get auto-filled get a bit funky on rows 13 and 14:

Not to mention the running total now returns a value formatted as a date. Huh?

You can see it before your very eyes in this animated image:

What’s also weird is if you remove row 14 the formula in row 13 corrects itself!

## Excel Table Running Total Formula

Thankfully there’s a solution and it includes using the Excel Table’s own structured references.

*Aside: Structured References are like dynamic named ranges that are automatically set up when you format your data in an Excel Table. They make working with Tables easy and efficient.*

My Excel Table running total formula looks like this:

=SUM( INDEX([Values],1):[@Values] )

We use INDEX to return the first cell in the Values column, and simply use the Structured Reference to the current row to return the second cell in the range we want to sum.

*Note: [Values] refers to cells B2:B13 and [@Values] refers to the current row of column B. **Learn more about Tables and Structured References here.*

In English the formula reads:

INDEX the Values column and return the 1^{st} cell **:** Return the cell reference to the current row of the Values column. And then SUM the values in that range.

If we were to step through the formula with the Evaluate Formula tool it looks like this:

If you’re familiar with the INDEX function, for example you might have used it as an alternative to VLOOKUP, then you may be having an ah-ha moment right now as you realise that INDEX has actually returned a reference to a cell, and not a value like you might expect.

And that right there is one of the beauties of INDEX. In fact I often use INDEX to return a dynamic named range instead of OFFSET, because it’s not a volatile function.

## Download the workbook and try it yourself

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Michelle says

How about identifying the row’s location using INDIRECT?

=SUM($B$2:(INDIRECT(ADDRESS(ROW(), COLUMN()-1))))

I’ve used this in other projects where I need to insert new rows, either in the middle or at the end of the table.

Mynda Treacy says

Hi Michelle,

Sure, that may work, but the INDIRECT function is volatile and therefore not recommended in large datasets, as it is likely to grind Excel to a halt.

Mynda

David B says

I use running totals in tables, but use SUM function without the absolute reference.

In Cell C2: =sum(B1:B2)

Since SUM() ignores text, it returns the first value and does the proper running total for all others.

Mynda Treacy says

Hi David,

If you copy your formula down to cell C3 you’ll get =SUM(B2:B3) and this won’t be a running total, it’ll only sum the next two cells.

Did I miss something?

Mynda

eLCHa says

Header row is text value, so you can use this

=SUM(Table1[[#Headers],[Values]]:[@Values])

The same for COUNTIF and other functions…

Mynda Treacy says

Yep, Michael also offered that option. Cheers, eLCHa.

Kevin says

Nice trick. Is there something similar for Pivot Tables?

Mynda Treacy says

Hi Kevin,

PivotTables have a built in running total. Simply right-click the column you want displayed as a running total > Show Values As > “Running total in”.

If you also want the values not totalled you can add the column to the values area again so it’s displayed twice; once as a running total and once not.

Mynda

Stephen says

What’s the syntax for this formula if I want to place the it outside the table or if I have more than one table on the same sheet that has the same headings?

I was trying =SUM(INDEX(Table1[Values],1):[@Values]) but that produces an error.

Mynda Treacy says

Hi Stephen,

If your formula is outside the table then you can just use the regular running total formula:

=SUM($B$2:B2) and copy down.

But if you want to use structured references then the formula must be on the same rows as the table, as the @Values reference uses implicit intersection to resolve the actual cell. You can then use this formula:

Mynda

Stephen says

Thanks Mynda!

🙂

MF says

We may also use =SUM($B$2:[@Values])

Cheers 🙂

Mynda Treacy says

Sure can! 🙂

Jack says

I am confounded. I can replicate the error using your spreadsheet, however I can copy your data to another spreadsheet, use your original formulas, and add all the rows I like and never replicate the error. I can even copy your data to another sheet or another spot on the same sheet and can not replicated the error.

Mynda Treacy says

Hi Jack,

Is your data formatted in an Excel Table? The problem only occurs in Tables.

Mynda

Jack says

Yes it is. I have never noticed this phenomenon and so it interested me enough to play with it. I can copy your data to almost anywhere, retype the original formulas Sum($B$2:B2), and then Ctrl T and OK. Everything works perfectly. The only time it breaks is if I attempt to put the table in original position even after using Alt H, E, A to clear all. I am not knocking your work around but I am stumped on why I can’t recreate the issue anywhere but in the original position.

Mynda Treacy says

The formula only breaks when you try to insert a new row in the table. Did you test that step? If so, what version of Excel are you using?

Jack says

Yes I tried inserting single rows and multiple rows, insert by dragging the bottom right cell and using the right click menu many times. The key is in your last question. I could not replicate your experience in Excel 2007 so I finally changed to another computer and Excel 2010 and there it was or at least something similar. If I inserted multiple rows, Excel would place the cell address of the last row entered into the first row inserted or if a single row it did almost the same as yours with the exception of the date thing.

Mynda Treacy says

Ah ha. Must be a version issue, starting with Excel 2010 and getting worse with 2013!

Alojz Lacko says

Nice trick, Mynda

Mynda Treacy says

Cheers, Alojz. Glad you liked it.

Michael Pierce says

Thanks for this…I never knew this would happen. My running totals must have always been outside of a table! 🙂

I know it’s not as pure as your approach, but what about using nothing but structured references? In this case, since header rows don’t usually contain numbers, you can use that to your advantage:

=SUM(Table[#Headers],[Values]]:[@Values])

Michael Pierce says

Oh…and for what it’s worth, although the formula problem persists, I don’t get the date formatting behavior in a table that I created in my version of Excel (15.25.1) on the Mac. But when I work with your spreadsheet, I do get the behavior. Not sure what the difference is…

Mynda Treacy says

Lots of things are different in the Mac version of Excel so I’m not surprised you get slightly different behaviour. I tested in Excel 2013.

Mynda Treacy says

Yep, that works too. Thanks for sharing, Michael.

Nate O says

Wo – mega helpful! Thanks for this tip!

Mynda Treacy says

You’re welcome, Nate 🙂

jim says

and if you want the sum of the last 2 values (yes, it’s happened!), you can use:

=SUM(INDEX([Values],MAX(ROW()-2,1)):[@Values])

assuming your table starts on row 1 – otherwise amend the -2

the MAX bit is to cope with the first table row which will otherwise give the whole column total

Mynda Treacy says

Interesting twist, Jim. Thanks for sharing.