In Microsoft Excel, when you use a minus sign (-) as a negation operator
(for example -1) in a formula, the negation operator has higher precedence
than a binary operator. This order of precedence may mean that a formula
returns a positive value when you expect it to return a negative value.
For example, the formula
is evaluated as:
The minus sign is evaluated as a negation operator. The
formula returns a positive value, 4.
Microsoft Excel uses an order of calculation to evaluate operators in formulas.
The order of evaluation of operators dictates that a minus sign (-) used as
a negation operator (such as -1) is evaluated before all other operators. Because of
this order, the formula
represents the value -1 squared, and returns
the value 1, a positive value.
To preserve the order of operations in a formula, you can specify that the
negative symbol in a formula apply to the entire formula
by inserting parentheses around the numbers that you want to be evaluated
For example, if the earlier fomula
is changed to
the formula returns a negative value, -4.
That has been the standard method for evaluating formulas since
the first version of Microsoft Excel.
NOTE: This order of operations is different from the order of operations in
For additional information about the order of evaluation of operators,
please see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
Excel: Order of Operations in Formulas
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Microsoft Excel 98 Macintosh Edition
For more information about operator precedence, click Contents And Index
on the Help menu (or on the Balloon Help menu if you are using a version of
the Macintosh operating system earlier than 8.0), click the Index button in
Excel Help, type the following text
and then click Show Topics. Select the "The order in which Microsoft Excel
performs operations in formulas" topic, and click Go To. If you are unable
to find the information you need, ask the Office Assistant.
Microsoft Excel 97
For more information about operator precedence in Microsoft Excel, click
the Index tab in Microsoft Excel 97 Help, type the following text
operators, evaluation order in formulas
and then double-click the selected text to go to the "The order in which
Microsoft Excel performs operations in formulas" topic.
Microsoft Excel 7.0
In Microsoft Excel Help, type the following text
and then double-click the selected text to go to the "Operator Precedence"
Microsoft Excel 5.0
For more information about "Mathematical Operator Evaluation in Lotus
1.2.3 and Microsoft Excel," click the Search button in Microsoft Excel
Help, type the following, and then click Display: