How to Get a Negative Number on a Scientific Calculator


A real number less than zero ("0") is called negative. A negative number is expressed by placing a negative (-) or "minus" sign before the number. Calculations involving negative numbers are important math assignments in the elementary school. Generally, to obtain a negative number you may subtract a positive number from zero. But many scientific calculators have a special function (a key) that allows you to easily obtain a negative counterpart.

Using the "+/-" Key

  • Enter a number on your calculator; for example, enter "23.5."

  • Press the key "+/-" on your calculator.

  • Read the calculator display; the minus "-" appears before the number, indicating that it is negative. In this example, you should read the number "-23.5" on the display.

Using Subtraction

  • Enter zero "0" on your calculator if you model does not have the "+/-" key.

  • Press the key "-" and enter the number, for example "45."

  • Press the "=" key. The number on the display becomes negative, and you can use it in any further calculation. In this example, the number "45" becomes "-45."


  • "Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers";Tom Bassarear; 2007
  • Photo Credit Images
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