A colleague told me that Word has a built-in math capability. I looked all over but I can’t find any. Is he pulling my leg?
No, Word can do simple math, but the tools are well-hidden. Did you notice I said tools—not tool. Buried deep in Word are all sorts of wonders. For simple arithmetic, the function is Tools Calculate. It’s certainly not in your toolbar unless the person who used your computer before you was a true Word maven. Click on Tools, Customize, and then, under Categories, click on Tools and go nearly to the end of the Commands menu to find Tools Calculate and drag it up to your toolbar.
To do a calculation just type out the numbers (either horizontally or vertically). While you don’t need to put a plus (+) sign between numbers you’re adding, you need a minus (-) sign for subtractions. So, it can be either:
1 2 3 4 5 -2
Just highlight the numbers and the answer will appear in the left side of your lower toolbar (see screenshot below).
The sum also is automatically copied onto the Clipboard, so if you need the number simply go to that place and press Ctrl+V (Paste).
I don’t think Word multiples or divides—or at least I can’t figure out how to do it. If a reader knows that it can be done, I’d appreciate the information, which I’ll share in the column.
Word also can do fairly sophisticated calculations via its Table menu. For example, create a table with three spaces and place numbers in the first two spaces (see screenshot below).
If you want to add the numbers in the first and second space, place your cursor in the third, open space, and click on Table. That triggers the following screen in which you can adjust the formula, number format and even paste a function.
Click on OK and the answer, 7, will appear in the third box.
As you can see, Word can do more than just catch a misspelling.