ABS Function

The ABS function in Excel is a powerful tool used primarily in mathematical calculations, specifically to obtain the absolute value of a number. It disregards whether the number is positive or negative and provides its positive equivalent.

When to Use the ABS Function

Excel’s ABS function comes in handy whenever you need to work with numerical data where the sign (positive or negative) is irrelevant to the calculation. For instance, in financial modeling, statistical analysis, or simply manipulating numerical data, ABS helps ensure accurate calculations regardless of the sign.

What it Returns

The ABS function returns the absolute value of the provided number. For instance, ABS(-5) would return 5, and ABS(10) would also return 10 since it’s already a positive number.


The syntax for the ABS function is straightforward:


Here, ‘number’ refers to the numerical value for which you want to find the absolute value.

Input Argument

number: This is the numeric value for which you want to determine the absolute value. It can be a constant value, a cell reference containing the number, or the result of a formula.

Additional Notes

The result displayed in the cell depends on its formatting. If the cell is formatted as General or Number, the output will be shown as the absolute value of the given number.

The ABS function operates only on numerical values. If you apply it to non-numeric data, Excel will return an error.

The ABS function is particularly useful in scenarios where you need to normalize data or perform calculations where the sign of the number isn’t relevant.

Excel ABS Function – Examples

Example 1: Basic Use of ABS Function

Let’s say you have the number -15 in cell A1. Applying the ABS function as =ABS(A1) would return 15, irrespective of the negative sign.

Example 2: ABS Function in Formulas

Consider a scenario where you’re calculating the difference between two numbers. Using =ABS(A2-B2) helps you find the absolute difference between the values in cells A2 and B2.

Example 3: Dealing with Variable Input

If you have varying inputs that might be positive or negative, utilizing the ABS function ensures consistency in calculations. For instance, applying =ABS(C2) helps maintain uniformity in handling data in cell C2, regardless of its sign.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is ABS in the Excel formula?

In an Excel formula, ABS stands for “absolute” and it’s used as a function to return the absolute value of a number. It disregards whether the number is positive or negative and provides its positive equivalent.

2. How do you use ABS in function?

To use the ABS function in Excel:



Here, number is the numeric value or cell reference for which you want to find the absolute value.


If you have a value in cell A1 and want to find its absolute value, you’d use:


3. What is the ABS function error in Excel?

The most common error associated with the ABS function in Excel is the #VALUE! error. This error occurs when the ABS function is applied to non-numeric data, including blank cells or cells containing text. Ensure that you use the ABS function only with cells or values containing numerical data.

4. How do I sort by ABS value in Excel?

Follow these steps to sort a column by its ABS values in Excel:

  • Select Data: Click on the column header to select the column containing the values.
  • Sort Dialog Box: Go to the “Data” tab, click on “Sort,” and in the Sort dialog box:
  • Sort By: Choose the column you want to sort.
  • Sort On: Select “Values.”
  • Order: Choose “Smallest to Largest” or “Largest to Smallest.”
  • Sort Options: Click “Options.”
  • Sort Options Dialog Box: Under “Sort by,” select “Values” and choose “Sort by absolute value.”
  • OK & Sort: Click “OK” in both dialog boxes to perform the sort.

5. How do I reset my ABS error?

If you encounter an error using the ABS function in Excel, such as #VALUE!, consider the following steps to rectify it:

1. Check Data Type: Ensure that you’re applying the ABS function to numerical data. Verify if any cells contain text or are blank.

2. Correct Function Usage: Review your formula syntax to ensure proper use of the ABS function. Double-check the cell references and numeric values.

3. Error Handling: Use error-handling functions like IFERROR to handle potential errors. For instance:

=IFERROR(ABS(A1), “Error”)

This formula will display “Error” if applying ABS to cell A1 results in an error.

4. Refresh or Recalculate: Sometimes, errors can persist due to calculation issues. Try refreshing or recalculating the sheet by pressing Ctrl + Alt + F9.


The ABS function in Excel is an essential tool for ensuring accuracy in numerical calculations by disregarding the sign of numbers. Its simplicity and effectiveness make it a valuable asset in various fields, aiding in data analysis, financial modeling, and everyday spreadsheet tasks.

Remember, utilizing the ABS function ensures consistent and accurate calculations regardless of the input’s sign, making it a valuable addition to your Excel arsenal.

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