A year-to-date figure (YTD) details the total percentage change from January 1 until a date later in the year. A calendar year change would be from Jan. 1 to December 31 of a given year. YTD can apply to a vast number of calculations, such as investment appreciation, expenses, sales or income. YTD change is a measure of the improvement from one period to the next, usually expressed as a percentage.

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Calculate the YTD total for a given time period. If you were calculating the YTD for your current year, which is only halfway through, then you would add all values up until your current date. More commonly this figure is used for the entire year.

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As an example, say you want to calculate total YTD sales for all of 2009. You would add all sales you had in 2009 from January 1 to December 31. Perhaps you totaled $70,000 in gross sales.

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Calculate the YTD total for the previous year. If you had calculated only part of the year before, such as the first quarter, then only include sales during the same time period for this previous year, i.e. only the first quarter.

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In the 2009 example, you would now add all sales you had in 2008. Perhaps you totaled $50,000 in gross sales.

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Subtract the second YTD total from the first TYD figure. In the example, you would subtract the 2008 total from the 2009 total, i.e., $70,000 minus $50,000, which equals $20,000.

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Divide the difference by the second YTD total and multiply that number by 100 to calculate the percent change from the previous year. In the example, you would divide the difference between the 2009 and 2008 YTD totals, i.e., $20,000, by the 2008 YTD total and multiply by 100: $20,000 divided by $50,000 multiplied by 100 produces a YTD change of 40 percent from 2008 to 2009.

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Interpret the results. As long as the percent YTD change is a non-zero, positive number, then you experienced growth in your sales volume. A zero change naturally infers no change, and a negative YTD percent change signifies a reduction in sales volume. The 40 percent shows the amount of growth as it pertains to the previous year. That is, the 2008 volume of $50,000 grew 40 percent to $70,000 in 2009.