How to Get a Negative Number on a Scientific Calculator

By Oxana Fox Images

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."

About the Author

Oxana Fox is a freelance writer specializing in medicine and treatment, computer software and hardware, digital photography and financial services. She graduated from Moscow Medical College in 1988 with formal training in pediatrics.