# Why Subtracting Two Negative Numbers Results in Positive Number

G

#### Guest

Hi~
I'm using Excel 2007 and ran into a problem when creating a formula that
references two cells (C8 and F8) where users will enter a negative number in
each cell. So for example, the user would enter the following numbers:

Cell C8 ------> -4424.872
Cell F8 -------> -4278.982

To subtract both numbers I created the formula: SUM(C8-F8). But the
problem is that instead of returning a negative number, the result is shown
as a positive number. I'm not sure why this happening. Could someone point
me in the right direction?

Thanks for the time and expertise!

T

#### Trevor Shuttleworth

Try:

=SUM(C8,F8)

or just:

=C8+F8

The SUM is actually redundant here. You're just trying to *add* two
negative numbers, not taking one away from the other.

Regards

Trevor

P

#### Peo Sjoblom

No need for SUM

what is the result you expected to get? If you want to SUM the number then
you should not subtract

=C8+F8

or

=SUM(C8,F8)

returns -8703.854

--

Regards,

Peo Sjoblom

D

#### David Biddulph

Do you get the right magnitude but the wrong sign? [In other words do you
get 145.89?]
One possibility is that you haven't got negative numbers.. If you have
4424.872 but format it as "-"General, then it will look as if you've got a
negative number, though what is stored is positive. What do you see in the
formula bar?

Are you certain that you haven't got a - after the = in your formula? [It's
easy to hit the adjacent key.]

Notice also that you don't need SUM in your formula. =C8-F8 is all you
need.

G

#### Guest

Trevor,

Thanks for the quick response. I tried both your suggestions but
unfortunately the results are not

The first example =SUM(C8,F8) returns the value of 0.00

The second example =C8+F8 returns the #VALUE syntax.

Just to clarify, the values I'm working with are -4424.80 (for C8) and
-4,419.28. So the correct answer should be -5.52. (-4424.80 - -4,419.28).
Somehow I can't get Excel to recognize the negative values even though I
formatted the cells as "Numbers" and selected the negative number format.

I appreciate the help.

Les

G

#### Guest

Peo,

Sorry, I should have included the values in my original post. This is the
formula and result I want to get:
C8 F8
-4,424.80 - -4419.28 = -5.52 but the result always comes out as
positive.

In trying your first example =C8+F8 returns the #VALUE syntax.

The second example =SUM(C8,F8) returns 0 as the value.

Les

G

#### Guest

David,

I formatted the two cells as "Number" and selected the Negative number
format (-1,234.210). When I entered the numbers I first type a hyphen then
the number so it looks like this in the cell and on the formula bar: -4424.80

When I keyed in your example =C8-F8 it returns the #VALUE syntax.

Les

David Biddulph said:
Do you get the right magnitude but the wrong sign? [In other words do you
get 145.89?]
One possibility is that you haven't got negative numbers.. If you have
4424.872 but format it as "-"General, then it will look as if you've got a
negative number, though what is stored is positive. What do you see in the
formula bar?

Are you certain that you haven't got a - after the = in your formula? [It's
easy to hit the adjacent key.]

Notice also that you don't need SUM in your formula. =C8-F8 is all you
need.
--
David Biddulph

Les said:
Hi~
I'm using Excel 2007 and ran into a problem when creating a formula that
references two cells (C8 and F8) where users will enter a negative number
in
each cell. So for example, the user would enter the following numbers:

Cell C8 ------> -4424.872
Cell F8 -------> -4278.982

To subtract both numbers I created the formula: SUM(C8-F8). But the
problem is that instead of returning a negative number, the result is
shown
as a positive number. I'm not sure why this happening. Could someone
point
me in the right direction?

Thanks for the time and expertise!

T

#### Trevor Shuttleworth

Les

if the answer you are looking for is -5.52 then the formula should be:

=C8-C9

The fact that you are seeing 0 in the SUM option implies that the numbers
are not actually numbers but text that looks like numbers. Are they left
aligned or right aligned in the cells ? If they're left aligned, the
chances are they're text masquerading as numbers.

=C8-C9 should force a numeric evaluation anyway. If it doesn't, format the
cells as General or number and re-enter the values ... that should prove the
point.

Regards

Trevor

D

#### David Biddulph

Are you sure that you've got a hyphen, rather than an underscore?

You were talking of getting a positive number as a result. What positive
number do you get from which input values? In your recent messages you've
talked only of zero or of the #VALUE error, all of which are consistent with
you having a non-number text string in your cells.
--
David Biddulph

Les said:
David,

I formatted the two cells as "Number" and selected the Negative number
format (-1,234.210). When I entered the numbers I first type a hyphen
then
the number so it looks like this in the cell and on the formula
ar: -4424.80

When I keyed in your example =C8-F8 it returns the #VALUE syntax.

Les
David Biddulph said:
Do you get the right magnitude but the wrong sign? [In other words do
you
get 145.89?]
One possibility is that you haven't got negative numbers.. If you have
4424.872 but format it as "-"General, then it will look as if you've got
a
negative number, though what is stored is positive. What do you see in
the
formula bar?

Are you certain that you haven't got a - after the = in your formula?
[It's
easy to hit the adjacent key.]

Notice also that you don't need SUM in your formula. =C8-F8 is all you
need.
--
David Biddulph

Les said:
Hi~
I'm using Excel 2007 and ran into a problem when creating a formula
that
references two cells (C8 and F8) where users will enter a negative
number
in
each cell. So for example, the user would enter the following numbers:

Cell C8 ------> -4424.872
Cell F8 -------> -4278.982

To subtract both numbers I created the formula: SUM(C8-F8). But the
problem is that instead of returning a negative number, the result is
shown
as a positive number. I'm not sure why this happening. Could someone
point
me in the right direction?

Thanks for the time and expertise!

G

#### Guest

Trevor,

Thanks for the help!

Les

Trevor Shuttleworth said:
Les

if the answer you are looking for is -5.52 then the formula should be:

=C8-C9

The fact that you are seeing 0 in the SUM option implies that the numbers
are not actually numbers but text that looks like numbers. Are they left
aligned or right aligned in the cells ? If they're left aligned, the
chances are they're text masquerading as numbers.

=C8-C9 should force a numeric evaluation anyway. If it doesn't, format the
cells as General or number and re-enter the values ... that should prove the
point.

Regards

Trevor