Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**Ignoring Signs**

3. Click a cell where you entered a number, or enter a number.

4. Type a
), and press Enter.

Ignoring Signs

The ABS function returns the absolute value of a number. The absolute

number is always a positive. The absolute of a positive number is the number

itself. The absolute of a negative number is the number but with the sign

changed to positive. For example, =ABS(100) returns 100, as does

=ABS(-100).

The ABS function is handy in a number of situations. For example, sometimes

imported data comes in as negative values, which need to be converted to

their positive equivalents. Or, for example, when working with cash flows as

discussed in Chapter 3, the ABS function can be used to present cash flows

as positive numbers.

A common use of the ABS function is to calculate the difference between two

numbers when you don’t know which number has the greater value to begin

with. Say you need to calculate the difference between scores for two

contestants. Score 1 is in cell A5, and score 2 is in cell B5. The result goes in cell C5.

The formula in cell C5 would then be =A5-B5.

Plugging in some numbers, assume score 1 is 90 and score 2 is 75. The

difference is 15. Okay, that’s a good answer. What happens when score 1 is 75

and score 2 is 90? The answer is –15. This answer is mathematically correct

but not presented in a useful way. The difference is still 15, not –15. By using

the ABS function, the result is always returned as positive. Therefore, for this

example, the best formula coding is like this: =ABS(A5-A6).

Now either way, whether score 1 is greater than score 2 or score 2 is greater

than score 1, the correct difference is returned.

Here’s how to use the ABS function:

1. Position the cursor in the cell where you want the results to appear.

2. Enter
=ABS(
to begin the function entry.

3. Click a cell where you entered a number, or enter a number.

4. Type a
), and press the Enter key.