How to Divide in Google Spreadsheets

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Divide in Google Spreadsheets using a Formula

How to Divide in Google Spreadsheets using a Formula
How to Divide in Google Spreadsheets using a Formula. © Ted French

Dividing Numbers in Google Spreadsheets

To divide two numbers you need to create a formula, since there is no DIVIDE function in Google Spreadsheets.

Important points to remember about Google Spreadsheet formulas:

  • formulas always begin with the equal sign ( = );
  • the equal sign always goes in the cell where you want the answer to go;
  • the division operator is the forward slash ( / );
  • The formula is completed by pressing the Enter key on the keyboard.

Using Cell References in Formulas

It is possible to enter numbers directly into a formula - as shown in rows two and three in the example above.

It is much better, however, to enter the data into worksheet cells and then use the addresses or references of those cells in the formula as shown in rows four to six in the example.

By using cell references - such as A2 or A5 - rather than the actual data in a formula - later, if it becomes necessary to change the data, it is a simple matter of replacing the data in the cells rather than rewriting the formula.

Normally, the results of the formula will update automatically once the data changes.

Division Formula Examples

The formula in cell B4 of the example:

= A2/A3

 simply divides the data in cell A2 by the data in A3 to return an answer of two.

Entering the Formula with Point and Click

Although it is possible to just type the formula

=A2/A3

into cell B4 and have the correct answer of 2 display in that cell, it is better to use point and click or pointing to add the cell references to formulas - especially with longer formulas.

Doing so minimizes the possibility of errors created by typing in the wrong cell reference.

Point and click involves clicking on the cell containing the data with the mouse pointer to add the cell reference to the formula.

To enter the formula

  1. Type an equal sign in cell B4 to begin the formula;
  2. Click on cell A2 with the mouse pointer to add that cell reference to the formula after the equal sign;
  3. Type the division sign - the forward slash - ( ) into cell B4 after the cell reference;
  4. Click on cell A3 with the mouse pointer to add that cell reference to the formula after the division sign;
  5. Press the Enter key on the keyboard to complete the formula;
  6. The answer 2 should be present in cell B4 since 20 divided by 10 is equal to 2;
  7. Even though the answer is seen in cell B4, clicking on that cell will display the formula =A2/A3 in the formula bar above the worksheet.

Changing the Formula Data

To test the value of using cell references in a formula, change the number in cell A3 from 10 to 5 and press the Enter key on the keyboard.

The answer in cell B2 should automatically update to four to reflect the change in data in cell A3.

#DIV/O! Formula Errors

The most common error associated with division operations is the #DIV/O! error value.

This error is displayed when the denominator in the division formula is equal to zero - which is not allowed in ordinary arithmetic.

The most likely reason for this happening is that an incorrect cell reference was entered into the formula or, as shown in row 3 in the image above, the formula was copied to another location using the fill handle and the changing cell references results in the error.

Calculate Percentages with Division Formulas

A percentage is a just a comparison between two numbers that makes use of the division operation.

More specifically, it is a fraction or decimal that is calculated by dividing the numerator by the denominator and multiplying the result by 100.

The general form of the equation would be:

= (numerator/denominator)*100

When the results of a division operation - or quotient - is less than one, Google Spreadsheets represents it, by default, as a decimal, as shown in row five, where the

  • numerator is set to 10;
  • the denominator to 20;
  • the quotient is equal to 0.5.

That result can be changed to a percent by changing the formatting in the cell to percent formatting from the default Automatic format - as shown by the 50% result displayed in cell B6 of the example.

That cell contains the identical formula as cell B4. The only difference is the formatting on the cell.

In effect, when percent formatting is applied, the program multiplies the decimal value by 100 and adds the percent symbol.