Sometimes when working with data in a spreadsheet, you may want to keep a running total that will show how the data changes every time a new number is added to the sequence.
Creating a cumulative sum or running total in Google Sheets is relatively easy to do after you have learned how it’s done.
In this tutorial, I will show you how to calculate a running total in Google Sheets.
What is a Running Total?
A running total (also called a partial sum or a cumulative sum) is the sum of a sequence of numbers that shows the sum each step along the way as new values are added to the total.
Running totals are commonly used for tracking things like revenue, expenses, and other financial information.
They are used in both business and academic settings across a wide variety of fields.
How to Get Running Total
The easiest way to get a running total in Google Sheets is to use the SUM function.
In order to do this, you also need to be comfortable with using absolute and relative cell references.
I will be creating a running total in my spreadsheet with this example data.
In this example, I have daily revenues for a certain period.
In column C, I will create a running total that will show the total revenue as each day is added to the sum.
Here are the steps to do this:
1. Select the cell where you want to calculate the running total and type “=SUM” on your keyboard. Next, press TAB to begin entering into the formula
2. Select the first cell of your data that will be included in the running total
3. After selecting the cell, press F4 on your keyboard to lock the cell reference in place (absolute cell reference). Alternatively, you can also manually type in the dollar sign ($) before the column letter and row number to lock the cell reference. My formula so far is: =SUM($B$2
4. Add a colon (:) into the formula and repeat the same cell that you entered previously into the formula. In my example, this is cell B2. So my formula now is =SUM($B$2:B2). We will not need to add any dollar signs into this second cell reference because we want to keep it as a relative reference
5. Add in your closing parenthesis and press Enter on your keyboard to calculate the formula. The value here should be equal to the cell you are taking the data from.
6. Now select the cell where we have entered our formula and copy it. Paste the formula down additional columns that you want to calculate the running total for. You should see that each row the formula is pasted down, the amount gets added to the running total so that you can see the total sum every time each row is added into the total
Hopefully, by now you can see that the process of creating a running total is very simple.
By having an understanding of cell references and the SUM function, together it is an easy formula to set up.
In your sum formula, you lock your first cell reference and leave the second as a relative reference. Then when you copy and paste your formula it will stay on the first cell, and progressively add each additional cell into the total sum.
If you are confused about any of the steps, make sure to watch the video!