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I have selected a 5 column by 20 row block in an Excel 2003 SP3 spreadsheet. I have selected Sum from the quick calc options in the status bar. However, the status bar shows a total of £24,000 when it should be ~12,000. The Sum calculation is wrong.

I have done the following to try and diagnose the cause:

  • Reviewed each cell in the selection for a value hidden by colour formatting (none).
  • Tried to Unhide any potentially hidden rows.
  • Reviewed the selection for rogue formulas (none).
  • Copied the data to a new sheet and tried the same Sum. This works correctly!
  • Quick summed each 1*20 column in turn (individually they sum correctly).

Question: What are ALL of the potential causes of such an incorrect calculation?

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What version of MS office are you using – Dheer Mar 22 '11 at 12:31
@Dheer Thanks for pointing that out. I have added the version to the Q. Excel 2003 SP3. – bentayloruk Mar 22 '11 at 12:36
when you actually look at the formula does it match what it would if you explicitly declared it? e.g. =sum("A1:E20") – datatoo Mar 25 '11 at 0:38
You've checked for hidden rows, are there any hidden columns? – Diem Mar 26 '11 at 14:36
@bentayloruk in that case write your own answer to not only check for hidden rows but also for hidden columns :) – oleschri Jul 20 '11 at 16:49
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The following things can cause the quick sum calculation to be wrong:

  • Hidden rows
  • Hidden columns

How to show or hide columns and rows in Excel

Note: my problem was caused by a hidden column *embarrassed look*. Thanks to @Diem for pointing this out in the question comments. In the absence of any other correct answers, I will mark this as the answer for now.

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This may be a numerical accuracy issue. Spreadsheet software are known for poor numerical accuracy, see

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There's a slight difference between numerical accuracy/floating point precision and being of by 100 percent. – Bobby Mar 26 '11 at 20:14

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