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Use Formulas in MS Word

Recently a reader wrote in asking if formulas can be used in Word 2007 tables – good question!

The “good” answer is YES they can, and while some may question the reasons you might want to use Word for calculations I can see your point.

If the primary purpose of the table is to present non-numerical information and you simply need one or two calculation then I’d want to use Word as well. While I obviously know how to use Excel quite well, I find it easier to manipulate this type of information in Word.

So for those of you who agree then here’s what you need to know about using formulas in your Word 2007 tables.

Before we begin you need to understand that Word will “label” the location of the table’s cells the same way that cell locations are assigned in Excel. (You won’t see a label but that’s how the cells are referenced in the formula.)

Columns are lettered starting with A and rows are numbered starting with 1 like this:


Now that we’ve got the cell references handled the most obvious step is to have you cursor in the cell of the table where the formula will be placed.

Now we’re off to the Table Tools, Layout tab on the Ribbon.


Click the Formula button. (Far right side in the Data section.)

You’ll get this dialog box:


If the Formula field has a suggested formula in it (usually SUM) and it’s not what you want then just delete it.

Now it’s time to enter your formula – if you know the syntax then just enter it in the Formula field. If you’re not sure what the actual formula syntax is then the bottom left side has the Paste function drop-down list where you can choose one.

Select a Number format from the drop-down list for Word to use with the results.

Click OK.

With all that said let’s take a quick look at an example… given the following table of information I’m looking to have the total calls for the week placed in cell E4.


So, with my cursor in cell E4 I’ll click the Formula button.

The formula I need to use looks like this:


This tells Word to add cells A2 through E2 but if that setup isn’t your thing then you can always use a more basic approach like this:


Basically you’re giving Word a list of cells to add (works great for data in non-consecutive cells) or you could even use something more basic like this:


Whatever formula setup you use you’ll then proceed to choose a number format (if you want to – or you could wait and see what Word gives you) and then click OK.

And that’s it – Word will complete the calculation and then, assuming that the formula was written to do what you intended it to do, the result will be displayed in the cell where the cursor is sitting.

One last thing… if data changes then you may want the result of the calculation to reflect that change.

If so, probably the easiest way to do that is to right-click over the results (Word inserts it as a field) then choose Update Field from the pop-up menu.


OK – now I think that I’m really done this time!

Go forth and calculate.