5 Ways to Square a Number in Google Sheets

It can be a pretty common need to square a number for various financial, statistical, or engineering calculations.

Can you perform this calculation in Google Sheets?

Yes! Google Sheets has the capacity to do all sorts of calculations, including squaring numbers!

Squaring a number is a pretty straightforward operation. Google Sheets makes it even easier with the functions and formulas it has built-in.

In this post, I’ll show you 5 easy ways to square a number in Google Sheets.

  1. Multiply the value by itself.
  2. Use the caret (^) operator.
  3. Use the POWER function.
  4. Use the SUMSQ function.
  5. Use the SERIESSUM function.

Use the above link to get access to the workbook used in this post and follow along.

Let’s get into it!

Square a Number with a Multiplication Formula

What does it mean to square a number?

By definition, this means you are multiplying the number by itself. This is an easy operation to do in Google Sheets.

Above is a set of numbers in column B which we wish to calculate the square for.

= B3 * B3

You can then use the above formula to get the square of the number in cell B3. This formula multiplies the value in cell B3 with itself!

Here are the steps you can follow to create this formula for yourself.

  1. Select the cell where you want the square number result to appear. In this example, this is cell C3.
  2. Type an equal sign (=) to start your formula. All calculations start with an equal sign in Google Sheets.
  3. Click on cell B3 to reference it in the formula.
  4. Type an asterisk (*). This is the multiplication operator.
  5. Click on cell B3 to reference it again after the multiplication operator.
  6. Press Enter to accept and evaluate the formula.

Now you can copy and paste this formula down and it will calculate the square for all the numbers in column B.

Square a Number with the Caret Operator

There is a special operator that you can use in Google Sheets to raise any number to any exponent.

For example, you can raise a number to the second power, which is just another way to say you are squaring a number.

This special operator is the caret character (^) and can usually be found on the number keys of your keyboard as seen above. You can access this character by pressing Shift + 6 on your keyboard.

= B3 ^ 2

Use the above formula to calculate the square of the number in cell B3. The number after the caret (^) symbol is the exponent or power to which you wish to raise the value in cell B3. In this case, we want to square the number so this exponent is 2.

Follow these steps to create this formula for yourself.

  1. Select the cell where the square number result should be returned. This is cell C3 in this example.
  2. Type an equal sign (=) to start your formula.
  3. Click on cell B3 to add it into the formula.
  4. Type the caret (^) symbol by pressing Shift + 6 on your keyboard.
  5. Type the number 2 after the caret symbol.
  6. Press Enter the formula.

You can then copy and paste down this formula to calculate the square result for the remaining values in column B.

Once you know about the caret symbol as the exponent operator, the formula is quite easy to use.

Note: This is a better option instead of multiplication for calculating higher powers like the cube or 4th power.

Square a Number with the POWER Function

I showed you two methods so far to calculate the square of a number. Both of these rely on operators to perform the calculations.

But there is also a dedicated function in Google Sheets to calculate any exponent including the second power or square.

This is the POWER function.

POWER Function Syntax

 = POWER ( Number, Exponent )
  • Number is the value you want to raise to a given power.
  • Exponent is the value to which you raise the number.

Example

= POWER ( B3, 2 )

The above example will raise the value in cell B3 to the power of 2. In other words, this will square the value in cell B3.

Follow these steps to enter this formula.

  1. Select the cell where you want the square returned. This is cell C3 for this example.
  2. Type the equal sign (=) to start the formula.
  3. Type POWER( to start the function.
  4. Click on cell B3 to reference it in the formula.
  5. Type a comma (,) to move to the next argument of the function.
  6. Type a 2 for the value of the next argument.
  7. Type a closing parenthesis ) to finish the formula and press Enter.

This can be copied down to calculate the square of the remaining values in column B.

Note: When typing out the POWER function, you can save some time by only typing out PO then pressing the Tab key. This will autocomplete the formula name and add the opening parathesis for you.

Square a Number with the SUMSQ Function

The SUMSQ function squares numbers and then sums them up.

While taking the sum may not sound like it would be useful for squaring a number, the trick is you can use this on a single cell to return the square!

SUMSQ Function Syntax

 = SUMSQ ( Range1, [Range2], ... )
  • Range1 is the range of values to square and then sum.
  • Range2 is an additional optional input to square and then sum.

Example

= SUMSQ ( B3 )

The above formula will take the value in cell B3 and return the square. Since the function has a single cell as its only argument, the sum of this is just the square value.

Note: This is actually easier to use than the POWER function since you only need one input and don’t need to explicitly define the exponent as 2.

Square a Number with the SERIESSUM Function

The SERIESSUM is another function similar to SUMSQ. In fact, it’s a more generalized version and allows you to find the sum of any mathematical series.

SERIESSUM Function Syntax

 = SERIESSUM ( X, Start, Increment, Coefficients )
  • X – The series input.
  • Start – The initial starting power of X in the series.
  • Increment – The additive increment by which to increase x.
  • Coefficients – The array containing the coefficients of the series.

Example

= SERIESSUM ( B3, 2, 0, 1 )

The above formula will create a series based on the value in cell B3.

  • This series will have a starting exponent of 2.
  • The exponent will increase by 0 with each step in the series.
  • The series will have a coefficient of 1. Because this coefficient is a single value and not an array, the series will only have one step.

The resulting series is the same as the square of B3.

Conclusion

Google Sheets provides 5 easy ways to calculate the square of any number.

There are two operators and one function.

The multiplication operator allows you to multiply a value by itself to generate the square and the caret operator lets you raise any number to an exponent or power. These are both easy ways to square a number!

The POWER function has the exact same functionality as the caret operator, but it comes with the added advantage of help text when you’re using it.

The SUMSQ and SERIESSUM functions are meant to sum values that have been raised to given exponents but can also be used to square a single number with the right inputs.

I hope this article has been helpful! If you have any questions about how these formulas work please ask in the comments below.

About the Author

John MacDougall

John MacDougall

John is a Microsoft MVP and freelance consultant and trainer specializing in Excel, Power BI, Power Automate, Power Apps, and SharePoint. You can find other interesting articles from John on his blog or YouTube channel.

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