The ABS function is used to remove any negative sign from in front of a value. For example;
- The absolute value of -4 (negative) is equal to 4.
- The absolute value of 4 (positive) is also equal to 4.
Thus, the ABS function will always return a positive value. See the bottom of this page for a more in-depth explanation of the absolute value.
To find the absolute value of a number, use this syntax:
… where number can be either a real number or a reference to a cell containing a number
How to use it
We can find the absolute value of a number like this:
We can also use find the absolute value of a value in a cell, like this:
Excel allows computations within the ABS function (and any other function for that matter). And thus we can use the ABS function like this:
In this example, Excel first evaluates the stuff within the brackets. 1 + 1 – 5 = -3. Then it finds the absolute value of – 3, which is 3, and displays that as the final answer.
What is an absolute value really?
When we speak about the absolute value, we refer to a number’s distance from 0 when drawn on a number line.
For instance the positive number 5 is 5 units away from 0.
The negative number -5 is also 5 units away from 0, just on the opposite side.
Therefore, both =ABS(5) and =ABS(-5) will produce an answer of 5.