Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Displaying Blanks when Summing to Zero.

Displaying Blanks when Summing to Zero

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 20, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


When you are working with tables in Word, you can use a field to sum the values in a range of cells or in an entire column. Normally, if the sum of the range is zero, the field displays a 0—this seems reasonable. You may, however, want the field to display a blank when the sum is zero, instead of the actual number 0.

To do this, simply modify your sum formula as follows:

{ =SUM(ABOVE) \# #;-#; }

Notice the addition of several parameters after the SUM formula. The first (\#) is known as a numeric picture field switch. It tells Word that the following codes represent a picture of how you want numeric information displayed. The second switch (just before the first semicolon) indicates how you want positive numbers to display. The second (just before the second semicolon) indicates how you want negative numbers to display. The final one (in this case blank, just after the second semicolon) indicates how you want zero values to display. Since this is blank, zero values are displayed as blanks.

You can apply the same logic if you want to display dollar values. Simply change the formatting codes used in the field to match how you want the data displayed:

{ =SUM(ABOVE) \# $#,##0.00;($#,##0.00); }

Here positive numbers are displayed with a dollar sign, commas (if necessary) and two decimal places. Negative values are displayed the same, except there are parentheses around the number. Again, zero values are left blank.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13241) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Displaying Blanks when Summing to Zero.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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