To calculate the percent of a total (i.e. calculate a percent distribution), you can use a formula that simply divides a given amount by the total. In the example shown, the formula in D6 is:


where total is the named range C15.

Note: the result is formatted with Percentage number format to show 36%, 18%, etc.

Generic formula



In this example, the goal is to work out the "percent of total" for each expense shown in the worksheet. In other words, given that we know the total is $1945, and we know Rent is $700, we want to determine that Rent is 36% of the total.

The total already exists in the named range total (C15) which contains a formula based on the SUM function:


In mathematics, a percentage is a number expressed as a fraction of 100. For example, 85% is read as "Eighty-five percent" and is equivalent to 85/100 or 0.85. To calculate the "percent of total" for a given expense, we need to divide the amount of the expense by the total of all expenses. In cell D6, the ratio is 700/1945, which is approximately 0.36 (36% when formatted as a percentage). The formula in D6, copied down, is:

=C6/total // returns 0.3599

using the named range total (C15). Without the named range, we need to use an absolute reference to "lock" the address to C15 so the reference doesn't change as the formula is copied down column D. The formula becomes:

=C6/$C$15 // returns 0.3599

As the formula is copied down, we get a percent of total for each item shown in the table.

Formatting percentages in Excel

The numbers in column D are decimal values that express a ratio. In cell D6, the ratio is 700/1945, which is approximately 0.36. To format a number like this as a percentage with the percent sign (%), apply the Percentage number format.

Percentage vs. number

To display a percentage in Excel, use the Percentage number format, which will automatically display a decimal value as a percentage. If you want instead a simple number without a percent sign, just multiply by 100:


The result is a number like 36, 18, 12.9, etc.

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Dave Bruns

Hi - I'm Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.