Experiment with Sum in Spreadsheets

There is more than one way to write a formula. In a spreadsheet, there are many ways to write an addition formula. Try them! Which way do you like the best?

You have surveyed your friends to find which color of candy they like best. You would like to know the total number of people you surveyed. Using Google Sheets, open a blank spreadsheet and enter the following information. Make sure you enter the first color – blue – in cell A4.

sum in spreadsheets

Survey your friends or use this sample data.

Sum with the plus sign between each cell:

  1. Select a blank cell.
  2. Type the formula =B4+B5+B6+B7+B8+B9+B10+B11+B12

Sum with a comma between each cell:

  1. Select a blank cell.
  2. Type the formula =SUM(B4,B5,B6,B7,B8,B9,B10,B11,B12)

Sum with a cell range:

  1. Select a blank cell.
  2. Type the formula =SUM(B4:B12)

Sum by naming a cell range:

  1. Select the cells with the votes (B4:B12).
  2. From the Data menu, select Named ranges.
  3. Replace NamedRange1 with votes. Click Done.
  4. Select a blank cell.
  5. Type the formula =SUM(votes)

Which addition formula do you prefer to use? Why?

For more spreadsheet activities using Google Sheets, see TechnoCandy. Students use math and spreadsheets to investigate a problem, conduct a survey, research packaging, and recommend a solution.


About TechnoHella

Hella Comat, Curriculum Writer - Hella Comat is a dedicated professional, who has taught in the education system for more than 30 years. As a pioneer of technology integration in Ontario public schools she was one of the first teachers to introduce the internet, video conferencing, web design, and multimedia learning activities to teachers and students in the Halton Board. To inspire teachers to use technology, she has led sessions for the Touch Technology program, ran workshops at education conferences, and sat on numerous advisory committees related to technology-issues. In recent years she taught the Computer in the Classroom course, at York University. Her lifelong commitment to teaching and learning was acknowledged when she was honored as the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Science, Technology, and Mathematics. Hella's contribution to the blog includes entries about the importance of technology integration. Drawing from her in-depth knowledge of technology in the classroom Hella writes about teaching strategies and useful resources that can benefit your practice. In addition, she provides innovative lesson ideas that you can implement into your own curriculum.