ABS Function in Excel

This post explains the ABS function or the absolute function in excel, its uses, and how you can use them in your Excel spreadsheet.

What is an absolute value?

By definition, in mathematics, an absolute value on a graph is the distance of any point from point zero. However, the critical fact to note is that the direction of the distance measured is not essential.

The absolute value is always taken as a positive number.

ABS function in Excel

The Absolute function, or the ABS function in Excel by definition, gives the absolute value of a number. This function converts the negative numbers positive, and the positive numbers remain unchanged.

Where and why would we use the absolute value?

Different fields and disciplines work with many positive and negative numbers but need positive numbers. To explain further, here are a few examples

  • In an energy wave, we can find both negative and positive directions of movement and so a geophysicist uses absolute value to look at the total amount of energy used.
  • Another example we can use is when scuba divers calculate the distance of their dive with respect to sea level. Looking at the phrase“50 feet below sea level” this statement doesn’t actually mean that the distance -50 feet. 

Syntax of ABS function in excel

 = ABS (Number)


Number – Any positive or negative number or value

Output : Absolute value (positive number)


This is a basic ABS function example

ABS Function

ABS function used with mathematical functions – Addition & Multiplication

ABS Function

ABS Function

The example given below uses SUMIF function, which combines the addition operator and the if statement. Further, the sample has two rows with both positive and negative numbers. The condition applied here is the addition of the positive numbers in row 1, which are numbers greater than 0, with the negative numbers in row 2, which are numbers lesser than 0 using the if statement to verify the condition. The positive answer displayed is a result of the ABS function.

ABS Function
ABS Function
ABS Function