[techtalk] Tech-Talk: EXCEL - Reverse Negative Numbers for Calculating

Darci Hanning darci.hanning at state.or.us
Tue Jul 18 14:04:22 PDT 2017


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 This Week's Tech-Talk:  EXCEL

1. VIDEO ... Reverse Negative Numbers
2. ARTICLE ... Reverse Negative Numbers
3. COMMUNICATING ... "Fair and Reasonable"

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Tech-Talk: EXCEL  - Reverse Negative Numbers

Have you ever been working in a spreadsheet with numbers in a column (or a row) that were mixed with both negative and positive numbers ... causing a problem?  You want to add them, but the negatives are canceling out the positives, giving you the wrong answer!

For example, you're working in an Excel spreadsheet with downloaded expenses and income data for the month.  Most of the costs appear as negative ($ -6.50), but you want to add them.

You don't want negatives, you want "absolute values".  You want numbers to be positive – so that you can add them up to identify the total spent on expenses.

[Reverse negative numbers]

There is a simple way to eliminate all the negative (-) signs by converting these numbers into their absolute value ... using the ABS formula. When you use this built-in formula, the ABS function returns the absolute value of an integer. Negative numbers are converted to positive, and positive numbers are not affected.

Convert Negative Numbers to Positives with the ABS Function

To convert negative numbers, do these few steps using Paste Special:

[paste special]

  *   Somewhere in your Excel spreadsheet, type -1 in a cell.  You can delete it later.
  *   Highlight that cell, right-click and choose Copy.
  *   Select/highlight the negative numbers you want to convert to positive.  (Hold the Ctrl key each time you click if you are selecting more than one.)
  *   Move your cursor to one of the highlighted cells, and right-click. Choose Paste Special, then Paste Special in the second drop-down.
  *   In the window, in the Paste section, select Values.
  *   In the Operation section, choose Multiply.
  *   Then OK.

[ABS function]

Now your negative numbers will show the absolute value (positive) for that cell.


Communicate - Talking / Writing
"Fair and Reasonable"

I love the words, "fair and reasonable"!

They go together so well. They pack a powerful punch for gaining agreement on something specific such as a project deadline, a budget amount or an approach.

  *   "Is the end of next week a fair and reasonable deadline?"
  *   "Does $1,500 sound like a fair and reasonable budget?"
  *   "Would talking to students first be a fair and reasonable approach?"

A Great Twist

You can also gain insight to unspoken assumptions by asking this as an open-ended question of someone,

  *   "What would be a fair and reasonable date to have this finished?"
  *   "What would you consider as a fair and reasonable budget amount?"
  *   "What do you think would be a fair and reasonable approach to this project?"

Typically, you'll find others tell you exactly what they are thinking when you use these two words so that you can come to an understanding quickly and agreeably.


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Darci Hanning, MLIS
Technology Development Consultant
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