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Excel Math Functions

How to Use Excel's Better-Known Rounding Functions: INT, ROUNDUP,  ROUNDDOWN, & ROUND

Excel's four better-known functions for rounding numbers are: INT, ROUND, ROUNDUP, and ROUNDDOWN. Here's how to understand and use them.

by Charley Kyd, MBA
Microsoft Excel MVP, 2005-2014
The Father of Spreadsheet Dashboard Reports

Excel has one way to round up or down from the first generation. In recent generations it has also offered a second method. And it also offers ROUND, which uses a different rounding method.

In this article, I'll describe these four functions. In a future article, I'll discuss Excel's other three rounding functions, which perform a slight different purpose: CEILING, CEILING.PRECISE, and finally, CEILING.MATH, which was introduced in Excel 2013.

First, let's define what we're talking about. Depending on the function, Excel uses three types of rounding:

Math: Rounding down moves towards zero; rounding up moves away from zero.

Order: Rounding down moves from higher numbers to lower; rounding up moves from lower numbers to higher. (This is my term. If you sort a column of data in descending order, rounding down moves down the column and rounding up moves up the column.)

Precise: Rounding down moves down to the nearest integer, regardless of the sign of the number. Rounding up moves up to the nearest integer, regardless of the sign of the number. ("Precise" is a Microsoft term, by the way.)

Those definitions produce the same results for positive numbers, but different results for negative numbers.

Using INT

The old way has been to use the INT function. Generally, if we Excel users think about INT at all, we think of it as the function we use to remove decimals from a fractional number. To illustrate:

=INT(123.9) = 123

However, INT actually is more sophisticated than that. INT rounds a number down using the Order rounding method. That is, it rounds a positive number down, towards zero, and a negative number down, away from zero.

To illustrate:

=INT(5.1)  = 5
=INT(-5.1)  = -6

Therefore, it's easy to use INT to round a number up using the Math method. Just switch its sign; find the INT; then switch the sign of the result.

For example, here's how to round 123.4 using the Math rounding method (away from zero):

=-INT(-123.4) = 124

And here's how to round -123.4 down using the Math rounding method (towards zero):

=-INT(--123.4) = -123


The ROUNDUP function offers more power to control your results. It uses the Math rounding method.

It takes this form:

=ROUNDUP(number, num_digits)

To illustrate:

=ROUNDUP(5.9,0) = 6
=ROUNDUP(-5.9,0) = -6

Again, ROUNDUP rounds away from zero.

The zeros values for the num_digits argument in these formulas tell Excel to return its results using zero decimal places. A positive number specifies the number of digits to the right of the decimal point; a negative number specifies the number of zeros to the left of the decimal. To illustrate:

=ROUNDUP(12345.0123,3)  =  12345.013
=ROUNDUP(12345.0123,1)  =  12345.1
=ROUNDUP(12345.0123,-1)  =  12350
=ROUNDUP(12345.0123,-3)  =  13000


The ROUNDDOWN function works like ROUNDUP, but in the opposite direction. It also uses the Math rounding method.

It takes this form:

=ROUNDDOWN(number, num_digits)

To illustrate:

=ROUNDDOWN(5.9,0) = 5
=ROUNDDOWN(-5.9,0) -5

Compare these results to the ROUNDUP version above.


The ROUND function looks quite similar:


But it uses the Precise rounding method. That is, it rounds up or down depending on the digits that follow the num_digits argument you specify, without regard to the sign of the number. For example:

=ROUND(5.9,0)  =  6
=ROUND(-5.9,0)  = -6

=ROUND(5.4,0)  =  5
=ROUND(-5.4,0)  = -5

You get similar results when you change the num_digits value, whatever the sign of the number:

=ROUND(12345.0629,3)  =  12345.063
=ROUND(-12345.0629,3) =  -12345.063

=ROUND(12345.0629,2)  =  12345.06
=ROUND(-12345.0629,2) =  -12345.06

=ROUND(12345.0629,1)  =  12345.1
=ROUND(-12345.0629,1) =  -12345.1

=ROUND(12345.0629,-1)  = 12350
=ROUND(-12345.0629,-1) =  -12350

=ROUND(12345.0629,-3)  = 12000
=ROUND(-12345.0629,-3) =  -12000

Now, with four functions to choose from, you should have complete control over your rounding options!

Take Your Next Steps

If you're looking for additional help with this topic, I can help you in three ways. To learn more, see Excel Training, Coaching, and Consulting.


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