Excel formula for Beginners – How to Sum matching columns in Excel

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In this end-to-end excel example, you will learn – Excel formula for Beginners – How to Sum matching columns in Excel.


Excel formula for Beginners – How to Sum matching columns in Excel

Generic formula



To sum values in columns by matching matching column headers, you can use a formula based on the SUMPRODUCT function. In the example shown, the formula in J5 is:


where “data” is the named range B5:G14, and “headers” is the named range B4:G4.

The formula sums columns where headers begin with “a” and returns 201.

How this formula works

At the core, this formula relies on the SUMPRODUCT function to sum values in matching columns in the named range “data” C5:G14. If all data were provided to SUMPRODUCT in a single range, the result would be the sum of all values in the range:

=SUMPRODUCT(data) // all data, returns 387

To apply a filter by matching column headers – columns with headers that begin with “A” – we use the LEFT function like this:

LEFT(headers)=J4) // must begin with "a"

This expression returns TRUE if a column header begins with “a”, and FALSE if not. The result is an array:


You can see that values 1,2, and 5 correspond to columns that begin with “a”.

Inside SUMPRODUCT, this array is multiplied by “data”. Due to broadcasting, the result is a two-dimensional array like this:


If we visualize this array in a table, it’s easy to see that only values in columns that begin with “a” have survived the operation, all other columns are zero. In other words, the filter keeps values of interest and “cancels out” the rest:

A001 A002 B001 B002 A003 B003
8 10 0 0 7 0
9 10 0 0 10 0
8 6 0 0 6 0
7 6 0 0 6 0
8 6 0 0 6 0
10 11 0 0 7 0
7 8 0 0 8 0
2 3 0 0 3 0
3 4 0 0 4 0
7 7 0 0 4 0

With only a single array to process, SUMPRODUCT returns the sum of all values, 201.

Sum by exact match

The example above shows how to sum columns that begin with one or more specific characters. To sum column based on an exact match, you can use a simpler formula like this:


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