If you need to work out a percentage, Excel is extremely competent and will do the heavy lifting on a large amount of data in seconds. We show you how to calculate percentages in Excel. See also: How to use Excel.

We're using Excel 2010 here, but it's the same process in any version of Excel since only basic fomulae are used.

While you could tap in the figures on a calculator, Excel allows you to calculate percentages on multiple figures extremely quickly. 

How to calculate percentages in Excel

When you have the amount and total

If you have a total, and you want to calculate the percentage of a certain amount below this total, here's the calculation:

Amount / total = percentage

We'll use the UK referendum figures for this example. We know that the total electorate is 46,500,001 and that there were 33,568,184 ballot papers. To work out the turnout as a percentage, you need to enter those into two cells (B3 and A3 respectively) in Excel, then select a third and type the following formula:

=(A3/B3)*100

How to calculate percentages in Excel

We multiple the result by 100 as it is otherwise displayed in decimal form, i.e. 0.7218, and we want it as a percentage. The result you'll see in cell C3 is 72.18964146.

However, it makes more sense to display it as 72.2% then you need to remove the *100 from the end of the calculation. Then select the cell(s) you want, right-click and choose Format cells…

How to calculate percentages in Excel

Then choose Percentage from the list and the number of decimal places. In this case we just want one, but the default is 2, so you can use the arrows or type the number 2. Click OK and your results will now be shown in the format 72.2%.

How to calculate percentages in Excel

How to calculate percentages in Excel

When you have the total and percentage

Let's say you have a price excluding tax and you need to calculate the total price with tax. To do this in Excel you need the following formula:

A3*(B3/100)+A3

How to calculate percentages in Excel

Effectively, we're multiplying the original number by 1.2, but that won't work in this case as the tax is expressed as a percentage rather than in decimal form (which would be 0.20). That's why we're dividing B3 by 100 to convert the percentage into decimal. If you just do the first part of the calculation - A3*(B3/100) - you will get the amount of tax. To get the total price you'll pay you have to add on the original price without tax, which is why the formula ends with +A3.

How to calculate percentage increase in Excel

Calculate the percentage difference between two numbers

To work out the percentage difference between two numbers, for example to see how much your yearly revenue has increased or decreased, you need the following formula:

=(B3-A3)/A3

How to calculate percentages in Excel

Here, the calculation first works out the difference between the two numbers (B3-A3) and then divides it by the first number (the previous year's revenue in this case). The result is shown in decimal by default, but to display as a percentage, simply right-click on the result cell and choose Format cells… Then pick Percentage from the list and the number of decimal places you need.

If there's a decrease rather than increase, the result will be displayed as a negative, e.g. -7.24%

 How to calculate percentages in Excel