How to Calculate Percent Change in Excel

Percent change, or relative change, is a key measure for measuring the variation between two values shown as a percentage of the initial value. It has numerous applications in many fields like financial analysis and scientific research where it is used to observe data changes over time.

Using percent change allows for comparing datasets with different scales or units. For example, when looking at the annual growth rates of two economies—one with a GDP of $500 billion and another with a GDP of $5 trillion—a standardized comparison beyond scale becomes possible through percent change. Moreover, trends and patterns within the data may not be readily apparent when one looks at raw numbers but can be observed by analyzing percent change.

Understanding the basics of the Percentage Change Formula

To comprehend the basic idea of calculating percent change, you must be familiar with the simple formula. The difference between two values is compared to the initial value and the resultant is expressed as a percentage. It’s represented as:

Percent Change=(Initial Value – New Value / Initial Value )×100

Percentage Change:

% Change is the calculated percentage change.

New Value:

The new value represents the most recent or final one among the series of figures.

Initial Value:

Starting figure in a data stream.

By this formula, it becomes possible to measure relative shifts in two numbers, thus making it a standardized statistic for comparing data over time in various disciplines like finance, economics, or scientific studies. This is an essential tool widely used in many areas such as business, economics, and research activities done by any scientist.

Example How to Calculate Percent Change in Excel

The formula for calculating percentages in Excel is widely used to find the Monthly Change and Total Change. It goes like this:

Given data:

 Let’s consider a different scenario with hypothetical data related to stock prices over several months. Assume the following data:


Choose cell C2 and type the formula given for percentage change.

Example How to Calculate Percent Change in Excel

Format C3 content as a percentage, go to Home tab – Number group – select Percentage format.


1c. Copy the formula from cell C2 to C13 to calculate the percent change over ten cells.

1d. Recheck the calculations for mistakes.

Percentage change formula Excel Example

let’s assume you have a table where column B represents the initial values, and column C represents the final values. In this case, we want to calculate the total change as a percentage.

Here’s a sample table:


Now, let’s go through the steps:

Compute Total Change:

  • Select cell D3.
  • Enter the formula: =(C3-B$2)/B$2.
  • This formula calculates the percentage change between the final value (C3) and the initial value (B$2), anchored to cell B2.

Format as Percentage:

  • With cell D3 selected, go to the Home tab.
  • In the Number group, click on the percentage icon to format the result as a percentage.

Drag the Formula:

  • Hover over the bottom-right corner of cell D3 until you see a small square (handle).
  • Click and drag the formula down to cell D13.

Confirm Accuracy:

  • Check the results in column D to confirm that the total change calculations are accurate.

As you drag the formula down, you’ll notice that the absolute reference ($B$2) remains constant, while the relative reference (C3 and B$2) adjusts dynamically, ensuring accurate calculations as you expand the formula across the desired range.