# Subtotal vs. Total — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 20, 2023

**Subtotal is the sum before additional charges or deductions, while Total is the final sum after all adjustments.**

## Difference Between Subtotal and Total

### Table of Contents

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## Key Differences

Subtotal represents a sum that does not include all factors, often excluding taxes or discounts. Total, conversely, encapsulates all elements, providing the final figure one must pay or account for.

Subtotal often provides a preliminary sum, giving a snapshot of costs before additional charges. Total, on the other hand, offers a comprehensive view, taking into account every relevant charge, discount, and addition.

The purpose of providing a subtotal is to give clarity about the base charges, allowing one to see costs before any adjustments. The total ensures that there are no hidden costs and provides the final amount to be paid or received.

In invoices, receipts, or financial reports, a subtotal gives an idea of base costs or earnings. The total, however, is the decisive figure, indicating the final amount due or earned.

While the subtotal gives an initial insight into costs, it might not represent the final amount due. The total, however, is definitive, signaling the end of calculations and adjustments.

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## Comparison Chart

### Definition

Intermediate sum of parts of a whole.

Final comprehensive sum after all additions and subtractions.

### Inclusion

Does not include all charges or deductions.

Includes every charge, deduction, and addition.

### Contextual Use

Often seen in the middle of invoices or bills.

Typically found at the end of bills or statements.

### Decision-making Impact

Provides an initial insight, not finality.

Definitive figure used for final decisions.

### Financial Implications

Indicates pre-adjustment amounts.

Dictates the actual amount payable or receivable.

## Compare with Definitions

#### Subtotal

A preliminary total excluding certain charges.

The subtotal does not include service fees or taxes.

#### Total

Complete aggregate of all parts or numbers.

The total number of attendees was 500.

#### Subtotal

An intermediate total before final adjustments.

Your purchases reach a subtotal of $200 before discounts.

#### Total

The end sum after all additions and subtractions.

With the discount applied, your total is $90.

#### Subtotal

A partial sum not including all elements.

The subtotal for the items is $50, but we need to add tax.

#### Total

A comprehensive figure without exclusions.

The total expenses for the trip amounted to $2,000.

#### Subtotal

The amount before the final total.

Your subtotal comes to $100; let's add the delivery charge next.

#### Total

The sum of everything combined.

The total duration of the event was three hours.

#### Subtotal

Sum of a subset of numbers in a series.

The subtotal for the first three items is $30.

#### Total

Comprising the whole number or amount

A total cost of £4,000

#### Subtotal

The total of one set of a larger group of figures to be added.

#### Total

Complete; absolute

A total stranger

It is a matter of total indifference to me

#### Subtotal

Add (numbers) so as to obtain a subtotal.

#### Total

The whole number or amount of something

In total, 200 people were interviewed

He scored a total of thirty-three points

#### Subtotal

(of an injury or a surgical operation) partial; not total.

#### Total

Amount in number to

They were left with debts totalling £6,260

#### Subtotal

Less than total; incomplete.

#### Total

Damage (something, typically a vehicle) beyond repair; wreck

He almost totalled the car

#### Subtotal

The total of part of a series of numbers.

#### Total

An amount obtained by addition; a sum.

#### Subtotal

To total part of (a series of numbers).

#### Total

The whole amount of something; the entirety

The storm damaged the total of the housing units.

#### Subtotal

To arrive at a subtotal.

#### Total

Of, relating to, or constituting the whole amount; entire

The total population of the city.

#### Subtotal

The total for a part of a list of numbers being summed.

#### Total

Complete; utter; absolute

Total concentration.

A total effort.

A total fool.

#### Subtotal

To calculate a subtotal.

#### Total

To determine the total of; add up

They totaled the applications at 600.

#### Subtotal

Less than total; partial.

#### Total

To equal a total of; amount to

The week's receipts totaled more than $90,000.

#### Total

To wreck completely; demolish

The driver survived the crash but totaled the car.

#### Total

To add up; amount

It totals to $25.

#### Total

An amount obtained by the addition of smaller amounts.

A total of £145 was raised by the bring-and-buy stall.

#### Total

Sum.

The total of 4, 5 and 6 is 15.

#### Total

Entire; relating to the whole of something.

The total book is rubbish from start to finish.

The total number of votes cast is 3,270.

#### Total

(used as an intensifier) Complete; absolute.

He is a total failure.

#### Total

(mathematics) (of a function) Defined on all possible inputs.

The Ackermann function is one of the simplest and earliest examples of a total computable function that is not primitive recursive.

#### Total

(transitive) To add up; to calculate the sum of.

When we totalled the takings, we always got a different figure.

#### Total

To equal a total of; to amount to.

That totals seven times so far.

#### Total

To demolish; to wreck completely. (from total loss)

Honey, I’m OK, but I’ve totaled the car.

#### Total

(intransitive) To amount to; to add up to.

It totals nearly a pound.

#### Total

Whole; not divided; entire; full; complete; absolute; as, a total departure from the evidence; a total loss.

#### Total

The whole; the whole sum or amount; as, these sums added make the grand total of five millions.

#### Total

To bring to a total; also, to reach as a total; to amount to.

#### Total

To determine the total of (a set of numbers); to add; - often used with up; as, to total up the bill.

#### Total

To damage beyond repair; - used especially of vehicles damaged in an accident; as, he skid on an ice patch and totaled his Mercedes against a tree. From total loss.

#### Total

The whole amount

#### Total

A quantity obtained by addition

#### Total

Add up in number or quantity;

The bills amounted to $2,000

The bill came to $2,000

#### Total

Determine the sum of;

Add all the people in this town to those of the neighboring town

#### Total

Constituting the full quantity or extent; complete;

An entire town devastated by an earthquake

Gave full attention

A total failure

#### Total

Including everything;

The overall cost

The total amount owed

#### Total

Without conditions or limitations;

A total ban

#### Total

Complete in extent or degree and in every particular;

A full game

A total eclipse

A total disaster

#### Total

The final sum of all components.

The total cost, after tax, comes to $110.

## Common Curiosities

#### How does total differ from subtotal?

Total is the final sum after all adjustments, while subtotal is the sum before such adjustments.

#### Why is subtotal important if we have a total?

Subtotal provides clarity on base costs, allowing one to understand charges before any adjustments.

#### Which is more crucial, subtotal or total?

While both provide valuable information, the total is more crucial as it indicates the final amount due.

#### Where might I see both subtotal and total listed?

Both can be found on invoices, receipts, and financial statements, with subtotal preceding the total.

#### Can there be multiple subtotals on an invoice?

Yes, there can be multiple subtotals if different sections or categories need separate calculations.

#### Is the total always the final amount on a bill?

Generally, yes, the total is the final comprehensive amount due after all adjustments.

#### How is subtotal calculated?

Subtotal is calculated by summing up selected elements, often excluding additional charges or deductions.

#### Are there situations where subtotal equals total?

Yes, if there are no additional charges, discounts, or deductions, subtotal can equal the total.

#### Is subtotal always less than the total?

Generally, yes, but in cases with discounts or rebates, the subtotal might be greater than the total.

#### Does total include taxes?

Yes, total typically includes all charges, taxes, and deductions.

#### What does subtotal represent?

Subtotal represents a preliminary sum, often excluding additional charges like tax or discounts.

#### Is it essential to check both subtotal and total when reviewing a bill?

Yes, reviewing both can ensure understanding of all charges and any potential errors or discrepancies.

#### Why might businesses separate subtotal and total?

Separating them provides transparency, allowing customers to see base charges and any additional fees or discounts.

#### Can the difference between subtotal and total be significant?

Yes, depending on taxes, service fees, discounts, or other adjustments, the difference can be substantial.

#### In which industries is the distinction between subtotal and total most prominent?

Retail, hospitality, and e-commerce often make clear distinctions between subtotal and total due to taxes, service charges, and discounts.

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Written by

Tayyaba RehmanTayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.