How to Find Difference in Google Sheets: Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Finding Differences in Google Sheets

Finding the difference between values in Google Sheets can be surprisingly straightforward. All you need is a basic understanding of formulas. You’ll use a simple subtraction formula to calculate the difference between two cells, making it easy to compare data. Stick around for a step-by-step guide and some handy tips.

Step by Step Tutorial on Finding Differences in Google Sheets

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to use Google Sheets to quickly find the difference between two values. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Open Google Sheets

Open Google Sheets from your Google account or navigate to

This step is crucial because you need to have the workspace ready before performing any calculations. Make sure your internet connection is stable.

Step 2: Create a New Spreadsheet or Open an Existing One

Click on the “+” icon to create a new spreadsheet or open a pre-existing one.

Starting from scratch or picking up where you left off is your choice. Just make sure your data is laid out properly.

Step 3: Select the Cell for Your Result

Click the cell where you want the difference to appear.

Choosing the right cell for your result ensures your spreadsheet stays organized and easy to read.

Step 4: Enter the Subtraction Formula

Type =A1-B1 (replace A1 and B1 with the cell references you’re comparing) and press Enter.

This formula tells Google Sheets to subtract the value in cell B1 from the value in cell A1. You should see the result immediately.

Step 5: Adjust the Formula for Multiple Rows

If you need to find differences for multiple rows, drag the fill handle (small square at the bottom-right corner of the selected cell) down to apply the formula to other rows.

Dragging the fill handle copies the formula to adjacent rows, making it efficient to calculate differences for large datasets.

Step 6: Format the Result

(Optional) Format the result cell for better readability, like adding commas for thousands.

Formatting changes can make your data easier to understand, especially when dealing with large numbers.

After completing these steps, you’ll see the differences between your selected cells, providing clear, comparable data points.

Tips for Finding Differences in Google Sheets

  • Double-check your cell references to ensure you’re comparing the correct values.
  • Use absolute references (e.g., $A$1) if you don’t want the cell reference to change when dragging the formula.
  • Apply conditional formatting to highlight significant differences.
  • Create a template with pre-set formulas if you frequently need to calculate differences.
  • Save your work frequently to avoid losing data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my cells contain text instead of numbers?

If your cells contain text, the subtraction formula won’t work. Google Sheets will return an error.

Can I calculate the difference between dates?

Yes, you can subtract one date from another to find the number of days between them using the same subtraction formula.

How do I handle negative differences?

Negative differences will appear as negative numbers. You can use the ABS function (=ABS(A1-B1)) to show only positive differences.

What if I get an error?

Double-check your formula and cell references. Common errors include mistyped cell references and empty cells.

Can I find the difference between cells on different sheets?

Yes, just include the sheet name in the formula, like this: =Sheet1!A1-Sheet2!B1.


  1. Open Google Sheets.
  2. Create or open a spreadsheet.
  3. Select the result cell.
  4. Enter the subtraction formula.
  5. Adjust for multiple rows.
  6. Format the result.


Finding the difference in Google Sheets is a breeze once you get the hang of it. By following these simple steps, you can quickly and efficiently compare data in your spreadsheets. Whether you’re tracking expenses, analyzing trends, or just need to see how values stack up, this method is incredibly useful.

For those who want to dive deeper, consider exploring other Google Sheets functions like SUM, AVERAGE, or even creating pivot tables for more complex data analysis.

So go ahead and give it a try! You’ll be amazed at how much easier managing your data can be with just a few clicks. If you found this guide helpful, be sure to check out our other tutorials on Google Sheets and happy calculating!