How to sum numbers in LibreOffice Calc automatically

LibreOffice Calc is a popular Microsoft Excel alternative that is part of LibreOffice. You can download LibreOffice for all major desktop operating systems and Calc will be installed alongside other modules automatically.

Using Calc works pretty much the same as in Microsoft Excel. You enter data in a spreadsheet and may use advanced features such as functions or charts manually or automatically.

One of the most common things that Calc users do is calculate the sum of numbers, e.g. of a column or a row, when using Calc.

libreoffice calc sum after selection

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You can highlight the numbers to get the sum and the average displayed to you in the status bar of the program; this may be sufficient for some tasks, but automation may speed things up further, especially if you use a function in templates as it will then be available automatically when you use that template.

You need to use a function if you want the sum to be calculated automatically by the program. Here is how that is done.

First, using menus

calc autosum numbers spreadsheet

  1. Select View > Function List. Calc displays functions in a sidebar that it attaches to the right of the spreadsheet.
  2. If you see SUM already, go to step 3. If SUM is not displayed as a function, select Mathematical from the list and scroll down until you see SUM listed.
  3. Click with the mouse button on the field below or to the right of the column or row with the numbers that you want to calculate the sum for.
  4. Double-click on SUM to add the function to the field.
  5. Use the mouse to select all fields that you want included using a single-click on the first field, the mouse to move, and the Enter-key on the keyboard to complete the operation.

Calc should display the sum of the selected fields now automatically. The sum changes automatically when you change any of the numbers in the selected fields.

The manual method of adding the SUM function to Calc

libreoffice calc manual sum function

The SUM function is pretty basic and easy to understand. You may add it manual to a field instead to speed things up.

All you have to do is add =SUM(XY:XZ) to the field, and replace XY and XZ with cell identifiers in the format B1 or D7. To calculate the sum of the five fields B1 to B5, you use the function =SUM(B1:B5). 

Remember to tap on the Enter-key whenever you have added or edited a function.

Select the field with the function to edit it in the edit field at the top of the spreadsheet.

Now You: do you use functions in Excel or Calc?

Summary
How to sum numbers in LibreOffice Calc automatically
Article Name
How to sum numbers in LibreOffice Calc automatically
Description
Find out how to sum numbers in LibreOffice Calc automatically using a simple function that you can add manually or automatically.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. Klaas Vaak said on December 26, 2020 at 12:30 pm
    Reply

    @Martin Brinkmann: with all due respect, this is now such a basic function, esp. for people reading your articles, that this article is like explaining to the readers how to calculate 1+1.

    1. Herman Cost said on December 26, 2020 at 2:56 pm
      Reply

      Yes, I have to agree with this. I can’t imagine that there are many spreadsheet users who are computer literate enough to even casually read ghacks, but don’t know how to use a SUM function.

    2. Malte said on December 26, 2020 at 4:05 pm
      Reply

      @Klass Vaak & Herman Cost
      Ever thought that people might google it so this artice might show up in the search results. So..no it’s not useless. I think it’s a good strategy explaining stuff even if it’s just basic things. Every day there is a new user on the internet searching for this kind of tutorial.

      1. Klaas Vaak said on December 26, 2020 at 6:55 pm
        Reply

        @Malte: you make a good point, in principle. Nevertheless, nowadays telling people how to do a sum calculation, the simplest of the simple, in a spreadsheet is like teaching grandma to suck eggs.

        If say an elderly person would be sitting in front of a spreadsheet wondering how to sum a number of cells, that person is unlikely to look it up on internet, but would ask one of her/his children.

        And in any case, Ghacks is not a spreadsheet tricks and tips site, so it would not show up high in the ranking in a Google search.

    3. Peterc said on December 27, 2020 at 1:22 am
      Reply

      @Klaas Vaak: In Martin’s defense, it’s the day after Christmas, and some eggnog recipes pack a *real wallop*. Maybe we’re lucky he could type at all. ;-) More seriously, I don’t use Calc super-often, I typically type in the =SUM() function manually, and I’d actually *forgotten* where the Σ button is located in Calc. (The last time I was a heavy spreadsheet user, it was in an older version of Excel and I’m pretty sure the Σ button was somewhere on one of the “regular” toolbars.) So, the article actually did have a small payoff for me. Plus, there might be other intermediate or advanced users of other types of programs (graphics, audio, video, word-processing) who have never used a spreadsheet in their lives. It’s kind of hard to imagine, I know, but it’s possible.

  2. SpywareFan said on December 26, 2020 at 12:48 pm
    Reply

    Overall LO has become a good SW, what prevents me to use it is:
    https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Development/Calc/XMLSource
    “it will not store the information about the data source once the data is imported”
    Until that functionality is implemented I’m forced to use M$ Office (2003).

    1. Klaas Vaak said on December 26, 2020 at 3:05 pm
      Reply

      @SpywareFan: an interesting alternative for M$ Office is Softmaker’s FreeOffice.

      1. intelligencia said on December 26, 2020 at 10:02 pm
        Reply

        @Klaas Vaak

        I have the Softmaker’s Free Office Suite in my computer – – and I LOVE IT!

        intelligencia

      2. SpywareFan said on December 27, 2020 at 11:18 am
        Reply

        In the FreeOffice manuals there is no reference to XML data mapping functions.

    2. Kent Brockman said on December 27, 2020 at 8:01 pm
      Reply

      Another vote for Softmaker’s Free Office, a very nice alternative to MS Office.

  3. Anonymous said on December 26, 2020 at 3:03 pm
    Reply

    Yes, I use functions in Calc: Average, Min and Max. I use the mouse to select the cells.
    I don’t usually have to use Sum.
    Thanks for the info, and could we have more tips for LibreOffice?
    I find that the documentation does not keep up with the changes in LibreOffice.
    Also, it is hard to find info in the help documentation.

  4. Bart from Holland said on December 26, 2020 at 9:29 pm
    Reply

    Thanks Martin for all your great work you put in to make our live easier. Have a nice and healthy 2021.

  5. ShintoPlasm said on December 26, 2020 at 11:09 pm
    Reply

    To all those complaining about this being a simple ‘101’ function: it’s Martin’s blog, he can write a deep-dive review of Windows Calculator if he so wishes. Do you pay his salary or something?

    1. Klaas Vaak said on December 27, 2020 at 5:27 am
      Reply

      @ShintoPlasm: yes, it is Martin’s blog, but it is a public blog with a comments section, which means he invites people to comment. And having been an avid reader for several years now, I am pretty sure Martin does not expect commenters to agree with him all the time.

      You do not help him with agreeing with everything willy-nilly and “honouring” him with praise. Martin, like everyone else in the world, is not perfect, therefore he can only learn from constructive criticism.

      Unfortunately you look at constructive criticism as a complaint. I do not agree with you on that and will keep making constructive criticism because I believe in keeping this website one of the best ones – refraining from constructive criticism won’t do that.

      1. Kent Brockman said on December 27, 2020 at 7:59 pm
        Reply

        Absolutely. People could rather than leaving constructive criticism just stop visiting the site. How is that in the best interest of the site’s authors?

  6. Anonymous said on December 30, 2020 at 9:35 pm
    Reply

    A new way to sum with the latest version is to place the cursor under the numbers to be summed, then press Alt-=, then ENTER.

  7. Pat said on April 19, 2021 at 6:23 am
    Reply

    The SUM function doesn’t work. It just keeps putting the same total no matter what figures I enter.

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