Excel ABS function


The Excel ABS function returns the absolute value of a number. Absolute value refers to the distance of a number from zero, disregarding its sign. This function is commonly used in mathematics and financial analysis to express a number without its sign, ensuring only non-negative values are considered.
  • number: The number for which you want the absolute value
Return value
The non-negative absolute value of the specified number.

How to use

Use ABS by entering a number or a cell reference containing a number as the argument. The function will return the number without any sign, effectively converting negative values to positive ones.


Simple ABS
Converting a Negative Number to Positive: To get the absolute value of a negative number:
This formula returns 5, which is the absolute value of -5.
ABS with Cell Reference
Using ABS with a Cell Reference: To find the absolute value of a number in a cell:
If A2 contains -10, this formula will return 10.
ABS in Financial Calculations
Calculating Absolute Differences in Finance: To calculate the absolute difference between two values:
					=ABS(A2 - B2)
If A2 is 100 and B2 is 120, this formula returns 20, representing the absolute difference between these values.
ABS with SUM
Combining ABS with Other Formulas: Using ABS in a more complex formula with SUM:
This calculates the sum of values in A2:A10 and then returns the absolute value of the sum.
ABS for Data Analysis
Analyzing Data with Absolute Values: To analyze variations or changes in data:
					=ABS(A2 - AVERAGE(A2:A10))
This finds the absolute difference between a value in A2 and the average of values in A2:A10.

Additional Notes

  • The ABS function is particularly useful in scenarios where only the magnitude of a number is important, not its direction (positive or negative).
  • Common uses of ABS include calculating distances, differences, and handling positive and negative values uniformly in various calculations.

Related Functions

Excel SQRT function

The Excel SQRT function calculates the square root of a number, essential for geometric and scientific calculations.

Excel SIGN function

The Excel SIGN function returns the sign of a number, indicating positive, negative, or zero, useful for condition checks.

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