How to Calculate the Percentage Change From the Previous Year in Excel

By Paula McCullough

Excel is a standard tool for presenting financial information. One common use of Excel spreadsheets is to show prior and current year information in side-by-side columns. When comparing numbers from two years, knowing the percentage change between the years is useful. To show this, add an additional column and a simple formula that can be copied down the rows. Show the resulting answers as percentages with a simple formatting adjustment.

Step 1

Enter previous and current year information in columns side by side. Give the column headings to indicate the first is the current year information and the second is the prior year information.

Step 2

Name the next column "Percent Change," and click on the first row in that column that has data in the fields for current and previous years.

Step 3

Enter the following formula into the cell; "=(cell with current year info)-(cell with prior year info)/(cell with prior year info)." For example, if the first row to have data in it is Row 6, the current year information is in Column C, the prior year information is in Column D, and the column being used to show the percentage of change is Column E, the formula "=(c6-d6)/c6" would be entered into Cell E6.

Step 4

Format the result to a percentage. Right-click on the cell and choose "Format cells." Choose "Percentage" from the list along the left of the next window. Choose the number of decimals to show.

Step 5

Copy the formula for the cell down to the rows below. To quickly do so, place the cursor in the lower right corner of the cell until a "+" appears. Press the left mouse button and hold it down as you drag the mouse down to the final row for which the formula is needed. Notice that the formula adjusts itself to each row; therefore, the cell below e6 shows the formula as "(c7-d7)/d7."