By David Ringstrom, CPA

My unscientific observation is that the SUM function is the most widely used function within Excel spreadsheets. This function makes it easy to add up multiple cells at once without laboriously adding multiple cells together individually.

- Click once on cell A1 and then press Ctrl-A. This will select the contiguous area, which we need to expand by one row and one column.
- Hold down the Shift key, then tap the Down arrow, and then the Right arrow. At this point, your selection should look like Step 1 of Figure 1.
- Press Alt-Equal Sign in Windows, or on a Mac, press Command-Shift-T. Alternatively, you can click the AutoSum icon, which looks like a Greek E. Any of these actions should add totals to row 4 and column H simultaneously. Do be sure to select the cells you wish to sum; otherwise, AutoSum will place a SUM function in the first numeric cell within the current region of your spreadsheet.

**Figure 1:**You can use AutoSum to add totals to the row below and column to the right if you expand the initial selection.

- Insert a new row at row 4 so that the totals move down to row 5. Label cell A4 as Pears, and then enter 1000 in cells B4 through G4.
- Notice how the totals in row 5 don't reflect the additional amount that was added for each month.

**Figure 2:**The totals don't reflect the additional amount that has been added for each month.

- Insert a blank row just above the total row, which in this case now appears on row 5. Change the row height to half of its normal height. An easy way to do so is to click on the row number on the worksheet frame and then drag the bottom of the row upward slightly. Next, adjust the SUM formulas in row 6 to be: =SUM(B1:B5).

**Figure 3:**Insert a blank row just above the total row to avoid adjusting the SUM formula each time a new item is added.

**About the author:**

*David H. Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at* *david@acctadv.com* * or follow him on **Twitter**. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner **CPE Link*