How to Use Net Present Value Formula in Excel

August 3, 2023 732 views

Net Present Value (NPV) is a critical financial tool used in the business world to assess whether an investment, project or business will be profitable in the future, making it a key decision-making factor for investors and companies alike.

This guide has been carefully prepared to explain how to use the Net Present Value formula in Excel and how to interpret the results to make accurate financial evaluations and improve financial acumen.

What is the Net Present Value Formula?

NPV = (Today’s value of expected future cash flows) – (Today’s value of invested cash)

Net Present Value, in simple words, is a calculation that involves a project's total cash inflows and outflows, the total cash flow is calculated in terms of its present value using the appropriate discount rate.

Why is it so important?

  • Net Present Value is considered to be a vital tool while deciding to invest into a new venture.

  • Investors evaluate new opportunities based on the NPV of the project: a positive NPV gives a green signal to invest whereas its bad opportunity if the NPV is negative Net Present Value calculations allow investors to determine the current worth of the investment.

  • This tool is mostly used in capital budgeting and investment planning to determine whether the investment would turn out to be profitable or not.

How to use the NPV Function in Excel?

Using the NPV function in Excel, users need to input the variables in excel and press enter to understand whether they will be making money or losing some in the future. Lets see how Excel makes investing easy with a Net present value formula Excel tutorial.

Net Present Value Function in Excel

Before learning how to use the Net Present Value in excel, it is important to understand the syntax of the function:

Syntax: =NPV(rate, Value 1, Value 2,...)

To effectively use the NPV function in excel, it is to understand the arguments of the function. These arguments serve as instructions to excel, correct instructions will result in effective results.

Argument 1: The rate at which the cash inflows are to be discounted. Generally, discount rates are used, but WACC can also be used instead.

Argument 2: The range of cells containing cash flows.

Using the Function (with example)

Here are some Practical examples of applying NPV formula in Excel:


Let's consider an investment opportunity in Xfactor Clothing. John, CEO Xfactor, just sent a proposal asking for an investment of $10,000. This initial investment is known as the initial outlay. John suggests that Xfactor will generate cash inflows of $3000 at the end of Year 1, $4000 at the end of Year 2, and $5000 at the end of Year 3.

To calculate the Net Present Value (NPV) of this investment, you need to know the discount rate. For this example, let's assume a discount rate of 10%.

In this example we will be calculating the Net Present Value manually; calculating the present values and then adding them up to get the Net Present Value, and also use the Net Present Value function in Excel.

Step 1: Open Microsoft Excel and set up your excel sheet by setting up columns and entering cash flows

Step 2: In the 1st method, we will be using the simple division function in excel to calculate the Present Value. Once we have the present value, we calculate the sum of the Present Values to evaluate the Net Present Value

Step 3: Now let’s try calculating using the Net Present Value function in Excel. In an empty cell, enter the NPV formula. Make sure to start the formula with the “Equals” sign

Step 4: For the rate argument, we will be using the discount rate.

Step 5: Next, we will be selecting the range of cash flows. The NPV Function will not only calculate the Present Value and also sum the total of Present Value.

Please note, Year 0 will not be calculated as it is added separately to calculate the NPV Value.

Step 6: Press “Enter” to calculate the Present Values.

Step 7: To calculate the NPV Value, simply add the NPV Formula results; Present values, and Initial outlay. Users can also use the SUM function in Excel to obtain the NPV Value.

Step 8: Press “Enter” to obtain the NPV Value.

Using the NPV Function in Excel is easy and efficient. With a simple template, users can just add information for every investment and calculate the NPV. parameters can also be adjusted, such as rate, to calculate NPV in different conditions for a better picture of the investment opportunity.


The investment will not be profitable in the next 3 years. The values can, however, be adjusted.

  • Rate: Decreasing the rate; discount rate, will make the NPV positive

  • Years: If we increase the number of years it will eventually increase the cash inflows. In the above example, if we add the cash inflow of the 4th year, the result will be a positive NPV

  • Initial Outlay: We can lower the amount being invested. Lowering the amount to $9,000 in the above example, will give us $789 Net Present Value

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How to use NPV Function in WPS Office

Financial Analysts can use the NPV Function in WPS Office by following these steps:

Step 1: Launch WPS Office in your system and create a new sheet.

Step 2: Set up your columns and insert data.

Step 3: We will be entering the NPV formula. Start by entering the “Equal” sign and enter NPV.

Step 4: Select the rate and the range of present values to calculate the sum of Present Values.

Step 5: Press “Enter” to display the results.

Step 6: To calculate the Net Present Value, users can simply calculate the sum of Present values and Initial Outlay. This can be done using the simply Sum Function in WPS Spreadsheet


Q1. What is the significance of the discount rate in the NPV formula?

The NPV formula's discount rate adjusts future cash flows to present values, with higher rates indicating higher opportunity cost and risk, while lower rates indicate lower opportunity cost and risk. This affects NPV calculation and investment feasibility.

Q2. How can I interpret positive NPV results?

Positive NPV results mean that over time, more cash is expected to flow into the project or investment than is expected to flow out. It indicates that the business has the potential to be successful and could deliver a good return on investment.

Q3. What are some common mistakes to avoid when using the NPV formula in Excel?

To ensure accurate results when using the NPV formula in Excel, avoid common mistakes such as inconsistent discount rates, improperly organized cash flow series, ignoring relevant costs, overlooking time value of money, and selecting an appropriate discount rate. These errors can lead to erroneous NPV calculations and potentially underestimating or overestimating the project's potential profitability. By avoiding these mistakes, Excel users can improve their NPV calculations and ensure the project's potential profitability.

NPV Function- Key to Making Informed Financial Decisions

In conclusion, it is essential for making wise investment decisions to comprehend and utilize the Net Present Value formula in Excel.

NPV serves as a vital financial tool, evaluating the profitability of investments or projects by considering the time value of money. Investors can accurately evaluate investment opportunities by calculating present values and using the NPV function in Excel. Avoiding common mistakes, such as inconsistent discount rates and improper cash flow organization, ensures reliable NPV calculations.

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