How to Subtract in Google Sheets in 3 Ways

how to subtract in google sheets

Substracting something is easy, but when it comes to using a computer, including a spreadsheet tool like Google Sheets, some people might find it difficult. Here’s how to subtract in Google Sheets.

Google Sheets, just like other spreadsheet tools, uses subtract operator and function to subtract numbers for its users. While this can be easy for one cell, it’s getting more difficult when managing large data to subtract.

How to subtract with the minus operator

The minus operator is the most efficient way to subtract, and you can subtract multiple numbers (yes, more than two). You can also combine the formula with other operators, like multiply operator (*).

=17-16

minus operator

Once you press Enter, the result will immediately show. You can also use the cell reference for an easier method and to subtract numbers that always change in the same cells.

subtracting cell

But, what if you have a large dataset to subtract? You can autofill in Google Sheets to make it faster.

To do this, simply click and hold the little square at the bottom-right of the cell, drag it to the bottom until the last cell which you want to show calculation results in.

autofill subtraction

How to subtract in Google Sheets with the minus function

The minus function might take more effort just to subtract, but you can still use it if you want. The numbers inside the brackets will be subtracted.

=MINUS(17,16)

Keep in mind that you can only subtract two numbers at once with this function. Otherwise, it will return an error message.

how to subtract in google sheets

You can also use a cell reference that locates where the cell containing the number is instead of the number, like this:

minus formula

How to subtract dates in Google Sheets

The best thing about a spreadsheet tool like Google Sheets is that you can also subtract dates. For example, you can subtract today by three, which will return the date of three days ago. But, you have to use the cell reference.

=F2-G2

The above example uses references for the subtraction of date to work. The F2 cell contains the date (which is today), and the G2 cell contains the number of days to subtract with (3), which will return the date of three days ago.


Google Sheets has the minus operator and function for the subtracting to work. You can also subtract dates, which can be more complex than just subtracting numbers.

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