Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Suppressing a Zero in a Calculated Sum.

Suppressing a Zero in a Calculated Sum

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 5, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Word allows you to create tables and to do a limited amount of math based on the cells in the table. Primarily, Word allows you to sum different cells; for instance, you can sum all the values in a particular column. Exactly how you do this has been covered in different issues of WordTips.

When calculating a sum, if the values that make up that sum total zero, then Word will show a zero in the cell where the summation formula is placed. In some instances you may want Word to simply leave the cell blank if the sum is zero. There are two ways you can achieve this goal.

First, you can use the picture switch with the SUM field to get exactly the type of numeric display you want. There are three possible settings you can use with the picture field, the first for the display of positive numbers, the second for the display of negative numbers, and the third if the number is zero. The following use of the SUM field illustrates this concept:

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

This is, of course, a field code, so the outermost brackets are created by pressing Ctrl+F9. The \# switch indicates that everything following and enclosed with quote marks constitutes the formats to be used in displaying the field results. The three settings within the quote marks are separated by semicolons. Thus, the first setting, #,##0.00, indicates that you want positive results displays using two decimal places and commas between thousands. The second setting, (#,##0.00), indicates the same treatment for negative numbers, except that the result is surrounded by parentheses. The third setting, which consists of two apostrophes with nothing between them, indicates that if the result is zero, you want nothing displayed.

The second possible solution is to use a nested field for calculating the sum. In this case, you would use the IF field to determine if the sum was zero. If it is, then you display the sum, if not, then you display nothing. The following is the example:

{ IF { =SUM(ABOVE) } = 0 "" { =SUM(ABOVE) } }

When this nested field is calculated, Word first checks to see if the sum of the above cells is zero. If it is, then the contents of what is between the quote marks (nothing) is displayed. If it is not, then the actual sum is displayed.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1643) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Suppressing a Zero in a Calculated Sum.

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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