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: Conditional Calculations in Word.

Conditional Calculations in Word

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 30, 2021)

One big benefit of using a spreadsheet program like Excel is the ability to create formulas that define results based on other information within the spreadsheet. Word is not Excel, but it does allow you to perform simple arithmetic based on the contents of a table. This can come in very handy in many instances.

What if you want to perform a conditional calculation, however? For instance, let's assume you have the following calculation field in a table cell:

{ = (B2-B1) }

What if you want to display the result only if B2 is not equal to zero? If B2 is zero, then you want the result displayed by the calculation to be zero.

To create conditional calculations, you use the IF field. This field causes Word to do a comparison, and then choose different results based on the outcome of the comparison. In this case, you want to test if B2 is equal to zero. If it is, then you want to return a value of zero. If it is not, then you want to do the subtraction. This is how such a compound field calculation would appear:

{ =IF (B2=0,0,B2-B1) }

The key factor in this IF formula is the comparison it performs. The comparison is the first element within the parentheses, in this case B2=0. The result of this comparison determines which of the following elements are used in the field. If the comparison is TRUE, then the first element (0) is used. If the comparison if FALSE, then the second element (B2-B1) is used. You can easily change the comparison to some other operation, if desired. For instance, if you want to make sure that zero was returned anytime that B2 was 0 or less, then you could use the formula B2<=0.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1671) 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: Conditional Calculations in Word.

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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