# How to Use the ABS Function in Excel

*Joshua earned an MBA from USF and writes mostly about software and technology.*

## How the ABS Function Works

The absolute value function (ABS Function) allows an Excel user to return the absolute value of a number. So, if the ABS function is used with a negative number, a positive number would be returned. If the ABS function is used on a positive number, a positive number would also be returned. Additionally, it can be added to other calculations to find the absolute value of part of the calculation or the final result.

## ABS Function Syntax for Excel Worksheets

For this function to work in an Excel worksheet, it needs to be used with a real number (or reference a real number). The function can work in any of the three scenarios described below:

**=ABS(5)**

In this case, the absolute value of 5 will be returned. The result that will remain in the cell will be a 5. This shows that when a positive number is used with the ABS functions the same positive number will be returned.

**=ABS(-5)**

In this case, the absolute value of -5 will be returned. The result that will remain in the cell will be 5. Any negative numbers used with this function will become positive numbers.

**=ABS(A1)**

In this case, the absolute value of the number that is located in cell A1 will be returned. Additionally, cell references that have arithmetic (e.g. A1+B2) will also result in a positive number.

**=ABS(5*-5)**

In this case, the absolute value of the result will be returned. Any arithmetic calculated with this function will return a positive value. The answer that would be returned for this function would be 25.

**=44*ABS(5*-5)**

Here the absolute value will only provide an absolute value for part of a formula. It can be added to any formula to find the absolute value of any part of a formula. This this situation might be used with some type of interval calculation.

## Entering the Formula Into a Worksheet

Whether the function is being used with a reference to another cell or as a number, it needs to be added to a cell in the form of a formula like the examples previously discussed. To create a formula, a cell needs to be clicked, and "=ABS(" needs to be typed in that cell or in the formula bar under the ribbon. After the open parenthesis, a cell reference, arithmetic with cell references, a number, or arithmetic with numbers needs to be added. This is then followed by a closing parenthesis. After the formula is completed, the enter button can be pressed to execute the formula.

## Inserting the ABS Function

The ABS function can also be inserted into a worksheet. To do so, a cell is first selected. Next, the formulas tab can be clicked, followed by the selection of the "Math & Trig" button on the Excel ribbon. The ABS selection from the list is then chosen.

## Inserting the ABS Function From the Formulas Tab

After the function argument window appears, a cell reference, arithmetic with cell references, a number, or arithmetic with numbers needs to be added to the number field. Next, Ok can be selected to return the absolute value to the cell that was selected.

*This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.*

**© 2020 Joshua Crowder**