The Excel SUM Function

Basic Description

The Excel SUM function adds together a supplied set of numbers and returns the sum of these values.

The syntax of the function is:

SUM( number1, [number2], ... )

where the number arguments are a set of numbers (or arrays of numbers) that you want to find the sum of.

In current versions of Excel (Excel 2007 and later), you can enter up to 255 number arguments to the Excel Sum function, but in Excel 2003, the function can only handle up to 30 arguments. However, each argument can consist of an array of values or a range of cells, each of which can contain many values.

Which Values are Included in the Excel Sum Function Calculation?

Numbers and dates are always counted as numeric values by the Excel Sum function. However, text representations and logical values are handled differently, depending on whether they are values stored in the cells of your spreadsheet, or they are supplied directly to the function.

The table below summarises which values are included in the Excel Sum Function calculation, and which values are ignored or result in errors:

Value Within a
Range of Cells
Value Supplied
Directly to Function
Logical ValuesIgnoredIncluded
(True=1; False=0)
Text Representations of
Numbers & Dates
Other TextIgnored#VALUE! Error

Excel Sum Function Examples

In the following spreadsheet, the Excel Sum function is used to calculate the sum of the numbers 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9. In each of the five examples, the numbers are supplied to the Sum function in a different way.

15=SUM( 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 )
26=SUM( {5,6,7}, 8, 9 )
37=SUM( A1, A2, A3, A4, A5 )
48=SUM( A1, A2, A3, "8", "9" )
59=SUM( A1:A5 )

Note that, in the above example spreadsheets:

Further examples of the Excel Sum function are provided on the Microsoft Office website.

Sum Function Error

If you get an error from the Excel Sum Function, this is likely to be the #VALUE! error:

Common Error
#VALUE!-Occurs if any of the number arguments that are supplied directly to the Sum function can not be interpreted as numeric values.