How to Total Rows and Columns in Microsoft Word

116989 How to Total Rows and Columns in Microsoft Word

Adding totals to the rows and columns in your Microsoft Word tables can help summarize data and highlight insights. With just a few clicks, you can have Word do the math for you. This tutorial will show you multiple methods to total table rows, columns, and more using Word’s built-in tools.

Introduction to Totals in Word Tables

Microsoft Word makes it easy to build tables to organize information – for example, tracking expenses for a budget or displaying data from an Excel file.

Once your table is set up, you likely will want to total certain rows or columns, such as summing a column of numbers to see expenses by category.

Here are some examples of when you may want to use totals in Word tables:

  • Sum a column of order quantities to see the total units sold
  • Average a row of test scores from different students
  • Calculate the difference between two cells to compare projected and actual expenses
  • Count the number of cells that contain data rather than formulas

Word provides several ways to add totals to your tables quickly, without needing to manually type in math formulas.

The main options covered in this tutorial include:

  • Using the Formula tool to build formulas
  • Adding a Total Row to apply functions like SUM
  • Typing formulas manually with cell references

Now let’s look at each method.

Using Word’s Formula Tool to Total Table Cells

The easiest way to add a total or other math formulas is with Word’s Formula tool. Here’s how:

  1. Click inside the cell where you want the total or formula result to appear
  2. Select the Layout tab on the Table Tools toolbar
  3. Click the Formula button (∑) in the Data group Formula button
  4. Select the type of formula you want to use:
    • Sum – Adds all numbers in the selected rows/columns
    • Average – Averages all numbers in selection
    • Count Numbers – Counts numeric cells
    • And more such as Max, Min, Product, StdDev, Var, etc.
  5. Pick the section to calculate:
    • Above – Totals the column above
    • Below – Totals the column below
    • Right – Totals the row to the left
    • Left – Totals the row to the right
    Total Row dialog

That’s all there is to it! Word will insert a field with the formula and display the result.

Example formula for summing above:




The formula will recalculate automatically when you edit data. We’ll cover how to manually update later on.

Next let’s look at adding a dedicated Total Row or column.

Inserting an Automatic Total Row

In addition to formulas, Word also provides a special Total Row option to quickly add totals to your table.

Here’s how to add a Total Row:

  1. Click in any cell within the table
  2. Go to the Design tab > Table Tools
  3. Click Total Row in the Table Style Options group Total Row button
  4. Choose a function to use from the dropdown, like Sum or Average
  5. Word inserts the Total Row below the table showing the result


  • Don’t need to write formulas manually
  • Row updates automatically when data changes
  • Can change the type of calculation at any time


  • Only adds to full row; can’t total partial columns
  • Can only add to the bottom of tables
  • Requires an extra row instead of displaying in existing cells

But the Total Row provides a super quick way to get totals without building formulas.

Next let’s look at writing your own formulas.

Typing Math Formulas Manually

You can also type formulas directly using cell references rather than the Formula tool. This allows more complex or custom calculations.

The basics:

  • Reference cells using R#C# format, where # is the row and column number
  • Formulas start with = sign
  • Use operators like +, – , * (multiply), / (divide)

Example calculating difference between two cells:

=R1C2 - R2C2

Breaking this down:

  • R1C2: Cell in row 1, column 2
  • R2C2: Cell in row 2, column 2
  • =: Designates this as a formula
  • -: Subtract second cell from first

You can combine multiple operations like:

=R1C1 * 0.20 + R2C2
  • Multiplies cell R1, C1 by 20%
  • Adds result to value in R2, C2

The benefit of manual formulas is you can do custom math between individual cells, vs. entire rows or columns.

Updating Formulas

Word formulas don’t recalculate automatically when data changes like in Excel. To update:

Option 1

Right-click the cell with the formula > Update Field:

Update Field context menu

Option 2

Select the entire table (or section containing formulas) > Press F9

This recalculates all formulas at once.

Option 3

Open the Formulas dialog again (Layout > Formula) and click Recalculate Now

Now let’s look at when you may want to use Excel vs. Word for totals and formulas.

When to Use Excel Instead of Word

While Word’s table features are handy for basic calculations, Excel offers more power for working with larger datasets.

Consider using Excel when:

  • You need to perform complex formulas and calculations
  • Connect formulas across multiple tables
  • Reference cells in different sheets or workbooks
  • Create charts and graphs
  • Use conditional formatting rules
  • Need to sort/filter large datasets

Fortunately it’s easy to integrate data between Word and Excel:

  • Copy/paste tables or cell ranges between programs
  • Insert > Object in Word to embed a linked Excel chart
  • Export Word table to Excel file to edit

So in summary:

  • Word: Good for simple tables and basic totals
  • Excel: More functionality for large datasets and analysis

Word is best for organizing information concisely, while Excel handles number crunching.

Now let’s recap what we learned…

Summary of Totalling Methods

We looked at various ways to add totals to Word tables:

  • Formula tool – Select total type and range in dialog
  • Total Row – Enable built-in row that auto-calculates
  • Manual formulas – Write using cell references like =R1C2


  • Use the Formula field type for accuracy
  • Update fields before printing
  • Reference cells with R#C# notation
  • Recalculate formulas with F9 or Update Field

And that wraps up this tutorial on totalling rows and columns in Word tables! Let me know if you have any other questions.

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