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Excel: How to Calculate the Percentage Change between Two Numbers

We show you how to calculate percent change in Excel using a percentage change formula and some handy formatting tools.


It can be beneficial in many situations to display the difference between two numbers as a percentage. Doing so helps to put a change into a more understandable format for the average reader. Today we're going to show you how to calculate this percentage change in Excel using an Excel percentage formula.

The first thing you should know is that to calculate the percentage change between two numbers you must minus the new value from the old value, then divide it by the old value.

Need an example? Let's say we made $2 in ad revenue from an article in June. In July, there was a big increase traffic, leading to $7 in revenue. We would calculate percentage change like so: (7 - 2) ÷ (2) = 2.5 * 100 = 250%.

What is percentage change?

At this point, we should note that there is a difference between percentage change and percentage difference. Percentage change is used to calculate the difference between an old and new value.

Percentage difference is used when both values are from similar time periods or origins. Therefore, you divide by the average of the two values rather than the difference between them. We'll be showing you how to calculate percentage change in Excel today:

How to Calculate Percent Change in Excel

Now that we've defined what percentage change is and how you'd normally calculate it, we can move on to how to use Excel to speed up the process. First, create two columns, one with your old values, and another with your new ones. We'll be using the time spend to complete a task as our example.

  1. Create a new column named “Increase/Decrease in %”

    Click the cell to the right of two numbers, ready to enter your percentage change formula in Excel.

    Windows 10 - Excel - Select the Cell

  2. Type the following percentage change formula in your Excel cell

    =(old value's cell - new value's cell)/new value's cell 

    In our example, then, that would be =(C3-B3)/B3. The resulting value will be a small decimal that does not yet represent an accurate percentage change. For that, we need to change the formatting of the cell.

    Windows 10 - Excel - Select the Cell - Type the Formula - Enter

  3. Change the formatting of the cell to percentage and reduce decimal points

    With your cell still selected, select the “Home” tab in your Excel ribbon and click the “%” icon, followed by “.00->.0”. The first will format your value as a percentage by multiplying the number by 100 and adding a percent symbol. The second will reduce the number of decimal points by one. You can press this multiple times, or the button next to it to adjust the decimal points to your liking.

    Windows 10 - Excel - Enter the Formula - Home - Numbers - Percentage - .00.0

  4. Apply the percentage change Excel formula to all rows

    Now that you know how to calculate percent change in Excel for one row, you can apply it to all of them. Instead of typing it out each time, you drag from the small square in the bottom-right corner of your first cell and drag it down to the bottom of your table. It will automatically calculate percentage change between two numbers 

    Windows 10 - Excel - Enter the Formula - Home - Numbers - Percentage - .00.0 - Result

Extra: How to Square Root in Excel

Now that you know how to calculate percent change in Excel, you may be wondering how to perform other calculations. In our other tutorial, we're showing you how to find the square root of a number in Excel using three separate formulas.

Featured - 3 different ways to find the Square Root of a Number in Excel

Extra: How to Use Alternating Rows in Excel

It's an old trick at this point, but applying shading (zebra stripes) to alternative rows in Excel makes your sheet easier to read. The effect, also known as banded row, allows your eyes to keep their place more easily when you're scanning a spreadsheet.

Featured - How to Apply Shading to Alternate Rows in Excel

Ryan Maskell
Ryan Maskellhttps://ryanmaskell.co.uk
Ryan has had a passion for gaming and technology since early childhood. Fusing the skills from his Creative Writing and Publishing degree with profound technical knowledge, he enjoys covering news about Microsoft. As an avid writer, he is also working on his debut novel.