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How to change negative to positive in excel

November 10, 2023

This article will show you how to Change negative to positive in Excel can make your work easier.

The ability to change negative data into positive data can be a very helpful tool in any spreadsheet. This is especially true when it comes to tracking progress and making better decisions. There are a few different ways to do this, and the one that you use will depend on the data that you are working with.

There is a way to change negative to positive in Excel. This can be helpful for tracking progress or for making budgets. 

The following steps will show you how to do this: Click on the cell that contains the negative number. On the Home tab, click on the Number Format button. In the Number Format dialog box, select Positive from the dropdown list. Click OK. The spreadsheet tools that a lot of us employ for data analysis often deal with numbers under large amounts and use many different types (binary, decimal, date time). When you handle numbers, you'll have all sorts of them (positive, negative, divide, date and time). Among the regular actions most of us need to perform is converting these numbers into various formats.

Part 1: Using Paste Special To Reverse the Sign

One of the quickest methods to change negative to positive in Excel is with the Paste Special option. The Paste Special option has several operations that you can use to perform basic calculations. The concept of this method is to multiply the negative number with a negative integer that won’t change its value.

As such, this method allows you to use Excel to change negative to positive and vice versa. We recommend using this method when all the numbers in a column or row are negative. Below, we discuss how to use the Paste Special to reverse the sign in Excel:

Step 1: Create a multiplier cell

When you open the spreadsheet document, create a multiplier cell. A multiplier cell is used as a factor by which other cells highlighted will be multiplied. So, in this case, the multiplier cell will be a negative integer, usually a negative one created at the side or bottom of the spreadsheet.

To create a multiplier cell, tap on any cell in the spreadsheet that won’t interfere with other data, then type -1 in it and hit the enter key. Right-click on the multiplier cell, tap on copy or press Ctrl + C on Windows or Command + C on Mac.

Excel with its multiplier cell copied

Step 2: Select the cells with the negative number

Next, highlight the row or column with the negative number you want to convert. To highlight the row or column, double tap on the first cell, and the second tap, drag the cursor to the end of the column or row with the negative number.

Highlighting a row in Excel

Step 3: Use the multiplication option in the Paste Special option to convert the number

Finally, right-click on the highlighted cells and tap the Paste Special option.

Right-click options on highlighted cells in Excel

Check the Multiply option from the displayed option and click the OK button to complete.

Paste Special options in Excel

At this point, all the negative numbers in the cells you highlighted will convert to positive numbers.

Negative numbers turned positive in Excel

Part 2: Converting Negative Numbers Using the Find and Replace Option

Another straightforward option to convert the negative sign to a positive one in a spreadsheet is with the Find and Replace option. The best part about using this method is that no math is needed.

Note that unlike the Find and Replace in Excel, you can highlight a section where you want to effect changes. Hence, if you don’t want to replace all the negative signs in the document, you can highlight them to limit the replacement to only the highlighted section. Below, we explain how to change negative numbers with the Find and Replace option.

Step 1: Highlight the cells you want to convert from negative to positive

Open the spreadsheet and highlight the cells with the negative sign you want to convert to positive. To highlight the cells, double tap on the first cell, and the second tap, drag the cursor to the end of the cells.

Highlighting cells in Excel

Step 2: Go to the Find and Replace Option in Excel

After highlighting the column, row, or both with a negative sign, on a Windows computer, press and hold the key combo Ctrl + H, and on a Mac, press and hold the keys Ctrl + F and navigate to the Replace tab. Alternatively, you will find the Find and Replace option on the Ribbon bar on a Windows computer under the Home tab. While on a Mac computer, you’ll see the Find and Replace option under the Edit tab.

Find and Replace dialog box in Excel

Step 3: Replace the negative size

In the Find and Replace dialog box, click the Find field and enter the dash or minus symbol. Click on the Replace field and leave the field blank. Click the Replace All button to replace all the negative numbers in the selected section. Or use the Replace button to replace the negative numbers one after the other.

Using the Replace All option in Excel with a negative sign in the Find what field and Replace with field empty

When you replace all negative symbols, click the Close button to close the dialog box.


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Part 3: Changing Negative Numbers by Removing the Negative Sign

In this section, we'll uncover a straightforward method on how to remove negative sign in excel. This technique involves eliminating the negative sign while retaining the numerical value. Let's delve into the steps with the aid of an illustrative example.


Consider a financial spreadsheet containing both income and expenses. Negative numbers represent expenditures, which can lead to formula misinterpretation. To rectify this, we'll employ a method to convert these negatives into positives, ensuring accurate calculations.

1. Identify the Data: Assuming you have a dataset like the one depicted in the provided image, proceed to the next step.

2. Apply the Conversion Formula: Utilize the following formula to convert negatives while leaving positives unchanged

Remove negative sign excel

In this formula, the IF function is employed to determine whether the value is positive or negative. If the value is negative, the formula appends a negative sign to the reference.

3. Apply the Formula to the Entire Range: Drag the corner of the cell with the formula downwards to apply it to the entire selected range (A3 to A5).

Remove negative sign excel

4. Observe the Transformation: As you drag down, Excel automatically calculates the absolute values of the negative numbers, effectively converting them to positive values.

By following these simple steps, you've successfully turned negative numbers into positive ones, streamlining your data interpretation and calculations in Excel.

Pro Tips: Flash Fill to Remove the Negative Sign

When it comes to how to convert negative numbers to positive in excel sheet, another efficient method is using the Flash Fill feature. Flash Fill acts like an Excel mimic, allowing you to define patterns with a couple of examples. It then applies these patterns to the entire dataset, saving you time and effort.

How It Works:

Flash Fill excels with mixed numbers, detecting patterns and removing negative signs from them. Whether your data incorporates negative values alongside positives or various digit combinations, Flash Fill adapts flawlessly.

Step-by-Step Guide:

1. Prepare an Example: In the column adjacent to your mixed numbers, manually input the first value without the minus sign. This establishes an example for Flash Fill to follow.

Flash fill excel

2. Activate Flash Fill: With any target cell selected, navigate to the Home tab. Click the "Fill" button within the Editing section. Choose "Flash Fill" from the dropdown menu to initiate this feature. Alternatively, use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + E.

Flash fill excel

3. Witness the Magic: Behold the power of Flash Fill! It promptly fills the target cells with numbers devoid of their negative signs.

Flash fill excel


It's crucial for the first value in your mixed data to be negative for Flash Fill to recognize the pattern. If your initial value is positive, simply add a minus sign to demonstrate the pattern.

Flash Fill isn't restricted by digit combinations. It adeptly handles various digit configurations, guaranteeing accurate transformations.


Part 4: Changing Negative Numbers by Multiplying with Minus One

Continuing our journey of converting negative numbers into positive values within Excel, we now explore an alternative approach: using multiplication. By multiplying negative numbers with -1, we effectively change their sign while preserving their magnitude. This technique offers flexibility and can be especially handy when working with large datasets.

Step-by-Step Guide with Images:

1. Choose the Target Cell Range: Begin by selecting the cells containing the negative numbers you wish to convert. In our example, let's work with cells B2 to B5.

2. Create a Multiplier Cell: In an empty cell, say C2, enter the value -1. This will serve as your multiplier for changing the sign of the negative numbers.

Multiplying with Minus excel

3. Perform the Multiplication: In another empty cell, for instance, D2, enter the formula "=B2*C2" where "B2" is the negative number you want to convert, and "C2" is your multiplier. Press Enter.

Multiplying with Minus excel

4. Apply to the Entire Range: Drag the formula cell's corner down to copy it for the entire selected range (D3 to D5).

Multiplying with Minus excel

5. Observe the Transformation: Excel calculates the product of the negative number and the multiplier (-1), effectively changing the sign to positive.

By following these straightforward steps, you've successfully employed the multiplication technique to convert negative numbers to positive in your Excel spreadsheet. This technique offers a versatile alternative to the previously discussed methods, catering to various scenarios and preferences.

Part 5: Changing Negative Numbers with ABS Function

As our journey to transform negative numbers into positive values within Excel continues, we now unravel the ABS function. This method offers a direct and concise approach to achieving our goal. By leveraging the ABS (Absolute Value) function, we can effortlessly convert negatives to positives while preserving their magnitudes.

Step-by-Step Guide:

1. Choose the Target Cell Range: Begin by selecting the cells containing the negative numbers you intend to convert. In our example, let's consider cells C2 to C5.

ABS function excel

2. Apply the ABS Function: In a vacant cell, such as D2, input the formula "=ABS(C2)" where "C2" represents the negative number you want to convert. Press Enter.

ABS function excel

3. Copy the Formula: Drag the formula cell's corner down to copy it for the entire selected range (D3 to D5).

ABS function excel

4. Observe the Transformation: Excel automatically calculates the absolute values of the negative numbers, effectively changing them to positive values.

By following these simple steps, you've harnessed the power of the ABS function to convert negative numbers to positive in your Excel spreadsheet. This method offers a concise and direct route to achieving accurate data representation.

Personal Review:

Having spent considerable time immersed in Excel's realm, I can confidently vouch for the effectiveness of these methods. Each approach brings a unique advantage to the table. Crafting custom formulas with the IF function feels like having a tailored solution at my fingertips. Flash Fill, with its almost magical pattern recognition, simplifies the process remarkably. Multiplying by -1 is a classic trick that delivers instant results with minimal fuss. The ABS function, like a reliable ally, streamlines the task effortlessly.


Part 6: Why Use WPS Office?

WPS office all office suite

When it comes to leveraging the methods we've explored for transforming negative numbers into positives within Excel spreadsheets, you have the choice between Microsoft Excel and WPS Office Spreadsheet. While both platforms offer the same functionalities, we recommend considering WPS Office for several compelling reasons:

Features of WPS Office:

  • Price: WPS Office provides an attractive cost advantage compared to other office suite options. It offers a free version with robust capabilities, making it a budget-friendly choice.

  • Compatibility: WPS Office ensures seamless compatibility with Microsoft Office formats, ensuring that your Excel spreadsheets remain accessible and editable across different platforms.

  • Features: WPS Office is packed with powerful features that rival those of established office suites. From advanced formula capabilities to data visualization tools, it caters to diverse spreadsheet needs.

  • User-friendly Interface: WPS Office boasts an intuitive interface that simplifies navigation and accelerates your learning curve. This user-friendly design enhances efficiency and reduces the time spent on familiarizing yourself with the software.

By considering these factors, you can confidently opt for WPS Office as your preferred spreadsheet solution. Whether you're a seasoned Excel user or new to spreadsheet management, WPS Office offers a compelling package that meets your requirements without compromising on quality.

How to Change Negative Numbers in WPS Office using Custom Format

When using WPS Office Spreadsheet, you can conveniently convert negative numbers into positive ones without requiring an in-depth understanding of formulas. WPS Office's user-friendly interface empowers users to initiate this transformation effortlessly. Here's how:

Step-by-Step Guide:

1. Select the Target Cells: Begin by choosing the cells containing the negative numbers that you want to convert. Let's assume we're working with cells A2 to A5.

WPS spreadsheet example

2. Apply Custom Format: Right-click on the selected cells, and from the context menu, choose "Format Cells."

WPS spreadsheet example

3. Access Number Tab: In the "Format Cells" dialog box, navigate to the "Number" tab.

4. Select Custom Format: Within the Number tab, select the format you expect.

WPS spreadsheet example

5. Apply and Confirm: Click "OK" to apply the custom format, which will alter the representation of the negative numbers to appear as positive values.

With WPS Office's Custom Format feature, you can seamlessly convert negative numbers to positive without needing to grapple with complex formulas. This simplicity underscores one of the key benefits of using WPS Office, making it a fantastic choice for users at all skill levels.

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Q1: What are the common errors when changing negative numbers to positive in Excel and how to avoid them?

  • One common error is overlooking the correct cell references in formulas, which can lead to inaccurate results.

  • Another mistake is forgetting to apply the changes to the entire range when using functions or formulas.

  • Misplaced parentheses in formulas can also cause errors.

To avoid these, double-check cell references, ensure formulas span the entire range, and meticulously validate parentheses placement for accuracy.

Q2: Can I convert positive numbers to negative ones?

Yes, you can convert positive numbers to negative by simply multiplying them with -1. This action will change the sign while preserving the magnitude of the number.

Final Thought on How to Change Negative Numbers to Positive in Excel

In summary, this guide has covered effective methods to convert negative numbers to positive in Excel. Whether you choose the Absolute Value function, Paste Special, multiplication, or Custom Format, each technique offers unique advantages for accurate data handling and streamlined calculations.

For a user-friendly experience with seamless cross-platform compatibility, consider leveraging WPS Office. Its intuitive interface and WPS Templates simplify the application of these methods. With WPS Office, you're equipped to excel in data manipulation and enhance your spreadsheet tasks

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.