How To Calculate Percentage Variance Between Two Numbers In Excel

Looking to sharpen your Excel skills? Let's dive into one of the most important calculations that you'll use when working with data: percentage difference.

The Basics of Percentage Difference in Excel

When working with data, finding the percentage difference between two numbers is useful for analyzing trends and changes. Luckily, it's a straightforward calculation to perform in Excel. Simply subtract the first number from the second, divide that difference by the average of the two numbers, and multiply by 100.

Percentage Difference Formula Excel

This formula can be put into practice when comparing data over time, such as comparing sales from the previous quarter to the current quarter. Let's say you had sales of $100,000 last quarter and $120,000 this quarter. The percentage difference would be:

(120,000 - 100,000) / ((120,000 + 100,000) / 2) * 100 = 16.67%

With this calculation, we can see that sales increased by 16.67% between the two quarters.

Formula To Calculate Percentage Difference In Excel

In addition to the basic formula, there are a few other ways to calculate percentage difference in Excel.

Formula To Calculate Percentage Difference In Excel

If you'd like to skip the step of averaging the two numbers, you can also use the following formula:

(New Number - Old Number) / Old Number * 100

This formula will yield the same result as the basic formula. However, it's important to note that it assumes the old number is the baseline, and the new number represents the change.

If you're looking to compare multiple sets of data, you can also use Excel's built-in functions. The PERCENTCHANGE function calculates the percentage difference between two numbers, while the PERCENTRANK function can be used to determine the relative position of a value within a range.

Using Percentage Difference In Real-World Scenarios

Now that we understand the basics of calculating percentage difference, let's explore how it can be applied in the real world.

One common use case for percentage difference is in financial analysis. For example, a company might calculate the percentage difference in revenue between this year and last year to determine if they're on track to meet their financial goals.

Percentage difference can also be useful in tracking changes in website traffic. By comparing the percentage difference in pageviews from one month to the next, a company can determine which pages are driving the most traffic and adjust their marketing strategy accordingly.

Additionally, percentage difference is an important metric in scientific research. Scientists may track the percentage difference in experimental results to determine if a treatment has a significant effect.


Whether you're a financial analyst, marketer, or scientist, knowing how to calculate percentage difference is an essential skill. By using Excel's built-in functions, or the basic formula, you can easily calculate the percentage difference between two numbers. With this information, you can make informed decisions and gain valuable insights into your data.

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