The absolute value is the distance between a number and zero. Since distance cannot be negative, the absolute value is always a positive number, so for example, the absolute value of 5 is 5 and the absolute value of -5 is also 5.
Finding absolute values in Google Sheets can be useful for a variety of applications, but how do you do this without having to do it manually?
Fortunately, there are three simple ways to accomplish this task. In this article, I will walk you through three methods you can use to get an absolute value in Google Sheets.
How to Find Abs in Google Sheets
Finding absolute values in Sheets is as easy as using one of three methods: the ABS function, the SUMPRODUCT function, or converting negative numbers to positive.
Take a look at how to use these three methods below.
Use the ABS function in Google Sheets
ABS is a function in Google Sheets that returns the absolute value of a number.
You can always manually convert negative numbers to positive numbers, and that will work fine if you’re only trying to get an absolute value of one or two cells. However, imagine having a large spreadsheet with a table column of 350 negative numbers.
Fortunately, Google Sheets includes an ABS function so that you can quickly get the absolute values of negative numbers without modifying their cells. It’s a basic function that you can enter using the following syntax:
=ABS(value). The value of ABS can be a cell reference or a number. For example, follow these steps:
- Open a blank spreadsheet in Google Sheets.
- Then enter the values ”-454″, “-250” and “350” in cells A2:A4 as shown in the snapshot directly below. Now you can convert that dummy data to absolute values.
- Select cell B2 and enter the function
=ABS(A2)in the fx bar, and B2 will return the abs 454 when you press Enter.
- Copy the function to other cells with the extension filling handle. Select B2, left-click on the bottom right corner of the cell and drag the cursor over B3 and B4. Next, release the left mouse button to copy the ABS function into those cells as shown in the screenshot below.
ABS also calculates the absolute values of the results of the calculations. For example, select B5, enter
=ABS(A2+A4) in the job bar, and press Return. B5 will return the absolute value 804. The SUM function will return -804, but as an absolute value, the result is 804.
Using the SUMPRODUCT function in Google Sheets
ABS does not add a range of numbers within a single cell reference. Moreover, the range of cells may include a mixture of positive and negative numbers. As such, SUMPRODUCT with the ABS formula is probably the best way to add a series of numbers together to get an absolute value.
Before adding the SUMPRODUCT formula to the spreadsheet, enter “200” in cell A5 and “300” in A6. Then enter the formula
=SUMPRODUCT(ABS(A2:A6)) in cell B6 and press Return. B6 now adds the cell range A2:A6 and returns an absolute value of 1,554.
You can also expand the formula to add two or more cell ranges. Select cell B7 in your spreadsheet, and enter the function
=SUMPRODUCT(ABS(A2:A6))+SUMPRODUCT(ABS(B2:B4)) in the job bar. The formula will add the numbers in the ranges A2:A6 and B2:B4 and then return the absolute total of 2,608 in this case.
Convert negative numbers to positive numbers
Power Tools is a Sheets add-on with lots of tools, including an option to convert number signs. To use this add-on, add Electrical Tools to Google Sheets, then follow these instructions to convert negative numbers to positive numbers:
- Open your spreadsheet
- select file Add-ons Drop-down menu
- Choose Electrical Tools
- Choose Started From the drop-down menu to open Power Tools as in the image below
- click turns up From the menu that opened on the right side
- tap on Convert number sign check box.
- Choose Convert negative numbers to positive from the dropdown menu.
- Select the range of cells A2: A4 in your spreadsheet with the indicator.
- tap on turns up Button in the sidebar for add-ons
This process removes negative signals from cells A2:A4 as shown in the screenshot below. These cells now include absolute values instead of negative values. With this conversion option, you can quickly get the absolute values of a large range of cells without entering any ABS function into an adjacent column. The Power Tools add-on has become an essential tool for power users of Google Sheets.
By following any of the above methods, you can get absolute values in Sheets without modifying cells manually. If you use Excel, you may find files How to get an absolute value in Excel To be a useful tutorial.
Do you have any Google Sheets tips and tricks that you find helpful? Please comment below.