How to Use Excel Percentage Formula: A Complete Guide

September 14, 2023 1.5K views

Calculating percentages in Excel is straightforward. A percentage simply represents a fraction of 100, so 72% stands for '72 out of 100', and 4% translates to '4 out of 100'. However, many individuals struggle with the precise steps involved in entering percentages in Excel, performing number increments by percentages, and determining percentage fluctuations between two sets of numbers.

Part 1: What is Excel Percentage Formula

At its core, an Excel percentage formula is a set of instructions that allow you to perform calculations involving percentages within Microsoft Excel. It's a powerful tool that simplifies complex mathematical operations, making it easier to work with percentages in various contexts. Whether you're analyzing financial data, sales figures, or any other numerical information, Excel's percentage formulas provide an efficient way to interpret and manipulate these numbers.

A percentage formula expresses a proportion or ratio as a fraction of 100. It is often used to compare a part to a whole and is represented using the symbol "%". For example, if you have 25 apples out of 100, that's 25%. In Excel, percentage formulas enable you to calculate proportions, growth rates, discounts, and more, making them indispensable for decision-making, forecasting, and reporting.

Basic Percentage Formulas in Excel

When it comes to working with percentages in Excel, mastering basic formulas is essential. Let's explore some fundamental calculations that will help you analyze data, track changes, and determine proportions.

1. Calculating Percentage Increase:

Percentage increase measures the relative growth between two values. To calculate the percentage increase in Excel, use the following formula:

  • Percentage Increase = ((New Value - Old Value) / Old Value) * 100

For example, if your sales increased from $1,000 to $1,500, the percentage increase would be:

  • Percentage Increase = (($1,500 - $1,000) / $1,000) * 100 = 50%

2. Calculating Percentage Decrease:

Percentage decrease quantifies the reduction between two values. The formula for calculating percentage decrease in Excel is similar to that of percentage increase:

  • Percentage Decrease = ((Old Value - New Value) / Old Value) * 100

Let's say your expenses decreased from $800 to $600. The percentage decrease can be calculated as:

  • Percentage Decrease = (($800 - $600) / $800) * 100 = 25%

3. Finding the Percentage of a Total Value:

To determine the portion of a total value that a specific component represents, you can use this formula:

  • Percentage of Total = (Part Value / Total Value) * 100

For instance, if you want to know the percentage of total sales contributed by one product that generated $1,500 in sales out of a total of $10,000, the calculation would be:

  • Percentage of Total = ($1,500 / $10,000) * 100 = 15%

Part 2: How to Calculate Percentage Change in Excel - Step-by-Step Tutorial

Calculating percentage changes in Excel is a crucial skill for analyzing trends, growth, and fluctuations in data. In this tutorial, we'll guide you through the process of understanding and applying the percentage change formula to real-life scenarios using Microsoft Excel.

Step 1: Understanding the Concept of Percentage Change

Percentage change expresses the relative difference between two values as a percentage of the initial value. It helps you quantify how much a value has increased or decreased in comparison to its starting point. The formula for percentage change is:

  • Percentage Change = ((New Value - Old Value) / Old Value) * 100

Step 2: Applying Percentage Change to Real-Life Scenarios

Let's consider an example. Imagine you're tracking the monthly revenue of a business. In January, the revenue was $10,000, and in February, it increased to $12,000. To find the percentage increase:

  • Percentage Increase = (($12,000 - $10,000) / $10,000) * 100 = 20%

Conversely, if the revenue dropped to $8,000 in March:

  • Percentage Decrease = (($8,000 - $10,000) / $10,000) * 100 = -20%

A negative result indicates a decrease, while a positive result indicates an increase.

Step 3: Implementing the Percentage Change Formula in Excel

  1. Open Excel: Launch Excel and create a new spreadsheet or use an existing one.

  2. Enter Data: Input your data into two adjacent cells. For our example, enter the January revenue in cell A1, the February revenue in cell B1, and the March revenue in cell C1.

  3. Calculate Percentage Change: In an empty cell, enter the formula for percentage change using cell references. If using cell A1 for the old value and B1 for the new value =(B1 - A1) / A1 * 100

For March's decrease, with C1 as the new value and A1 as the old value =(C1 - A1) / A1 * 100

  • Format as Percentage: By default, Excel displays the result as a decimal. To format it as a percentage, select the cell with the formula, go to the "Home" tab, click on the percentage symbol (%) in the "Number" group.

My Experience:

Recently, I was tasked with tracking the quarterly performance of our sales team. By applying the percentage change formula to the sales figures, I could accurately gauge their progress. Witnessing a positive percentage change after implementing new strategies provided a clear indication of the effectiveness of our efforts.

Additionally, during a period of market volatility, calculating percentage changes in stock prices allowed me to understand the magnitude of fluctuations and make timely investment decisions. This method has not only simplified data analysis but has also empowered me to confidently navigate dynamic scenarios in both professional and personal contexts.

Part 3: How to Use WPS Office for Free - Editing Word, Excel, and PowerPoint Files

WPS Office is a versatile and free office suite that allows you to open, create, edit, and save Microsoft Office files, including Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations. It offers full compatibility with both Windows and Mac operating systems. Here's a guide on how to edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files using WPS Office.



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Steps to Edit Word/Excel/PowerPoint Files in WPS:

Step 1: Download and Install WPS Office:

Visit the WPS Office website ( and download the version compatible with your operating system (Windows or Mac).

Run the downloaded installer and follow the on-screen instructions to install WPS Office on your computer.

Step 2: Launch WPS Office:

Once installed, open WPS Office from your applications or desktop shortcut.

Step 3: Open an Existing File:

Click on the appropriate program icon on the WPS Office home screen (Writer for Word documents, Spreadsheets for Excel files, or Presentation for PowerPoint files).

In the program window, click on "Open File" or navigate to "File" > "Open" to select the Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file you want to edit.

Step 4: Edit the File:

Once the file is opened, you can edit its contents just like you would in Microsoft Office. Use the formatting tools, fonts, styles, and other features available in WPS Office.

Step 5: Save Your Changes:

After making your edits, click on the "File" menu and select "Save" to save your changes to the original file.

You can also use "Save As" to create a new copy of the edited file if you want to keep the original unchanged.

Step 6: Export and Share:

If you need to share the edited document, spreadsheet, or presentation, you can export it in various formats compatible with Microsoft Office.

To do this, click on "File" > "Export to" and choose the appropriate format, such as DOCX for Word, XLSX for Excel, or PPTX for PowerPoint.


1. How do you find the percentage of two different amounts?

To find the percentage of one amount in relation to another, follow these steps in Excel:

  1. Subtract the smaller value from the larger value to determine the difference.

  2. Divide the difference by the smaller value.

  3. Multiply the result by 100 to express it as a percentage.

Formula: (Larger Value - Smaller Value) / Smaller Value * 100

2. What is the easiest way to calculate the percentage difference between two numbers?

Calculating the percentage difference between two numbers involves finding the change and expressing it as a percentage of the initial value. In Excel, you can use the following formula:

Formula: ((New Value - Old Value) / Old Value) * 100

Mastering Excel Percentage Formulas with WPS Office

In conclusion, this comprehensive guide has provided you with essential insights into working with Excel percentage formulas. We began by understanding the concept of percentages and their significance in data analysis. From calculating percentage increases and decreases to finding the percentage of a total value, you now possess fundamental tools to analyze and interpret numerical data effectively.

However, what truly sets this guide apart is its emphasis on using WPS Office—a powerful and free office suite that seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Office files. With WPS Office, you can open, create, edit, and save Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files with ease, all while enjoying full compatibility on both Windows and Mac operating systems.

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