EXCEL FORMULAS AND FUNCTIONS
This workshop introduces how to use basic Excel formulas and functions to
perform simple worksheet calculations.
AAG – Excel: Fundamentals
AAG – Excel: Formulas and Functions
The course features topics that explore how to perform mathematical
calculations using formulas, functions, AutoSum, AutoComplete, and the
AutoCalculate features. Customers will modify formulas and check formula
Launch Excel. Open document #3222957.
WHAT IS A FORMULA AND HOW IS IT USED
Formulas perform calculations using mathematical equations or logical
expressions. They always begin with an equal sign to prevent Excel from
interpreting the formula as text. Customers normally enter formulas in the cell
where the result will appear.
With the exception of the equal sign, formulas are much like regular
math equations. They use operators and the specific order of
precedence. The mathematical operators used in a formula are:
+ (plus sign) Addition
- (minus sign) Subtraction
* (asterisk) Multiplication
Explain how Excel
calculations and quickly
processes values using
used in formulas.
Welcome students and
Ask students if they
working with formulas
and ask how they intend
to use Excel.
Have students open In-
class exercise document
/ (slash) Division
( ) (parentheses) Controls the order of mathematical operations;
calculations within parentheses are performed
% (percent) Converts a number into a percentage; for
example, when you type 10%, Excel reads
the value as .10
^ (caret) Exponentiation; for example, when you
type 2^3, Excel reads the value as 2*2*2
The standard mathematical order of precedence determines which operation
Excel will carry out first. Formulas will follow this order of precedence
commonly defined as PEMDAS or Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally when
Multiplication and Division
Addition and Subtraction
The order of precedence prevents confusion and the flexibility of more than
one answer for the same number by indicating which part of the formula to
work on. For example, the result of 2+3*4 is 14, but the result of (2+3)*4 is
When a formula contains just addition and subtraction, Excel evaluates from
left to right because these two operators have the same level of precedence.
Similarly, a formula containing only multiplication and division processes
from left to right because the operators have the same level of precedence.
However, when the formula contains a mixture of addition or subtraction with
multiplication or division, the multiplication and division operators take
precedence over the addition and subtraction. This may produce a different
result than expected.
Place parentheses around the addition or subtraction if Excel should process
before the multiplication or division calculation. Forgetting this simple rule is
one of the most common mistakes made when creating formulas.
Excel uses two types of formulas – static or dynamic formulas. Both formulas
start with an equal (=) sign.
Static formulas use defined values such as 2 + 3. Static formulas
require editing of the formula to change the result. Use static formulas
for constant unchanging calculations.
Explain the order of
precedence in performing
Enter =65004-7426 in cell
B19. Press Enter. Select
B19 and point out
formula appears in
Explain the use of
more than one
function; put the
equation that should
process first in
The most common formula type, dynamic formulas, uses worksheet
cell addresses and recalculates when the associated cell value changes.
Use the dynamic formula when values may change.
To enter a dynamic formula type the equal (=) sign to start the formula
and then either type the cell references or use the mouse to select the
cells and allow Excel to enter the cell addresses into the formula
automatically, including the mathematical operators where
As cell addresses are typed or selected, Excel places a colored border
with squares at each corner around each referenced cell. Excel uses a
different color border for each cell referenced in the formula.
EXERCISE Entering And Editing A Simple Formula
Select cell B18 and type an equal sign (=).
Type B16, the first cell referenced in the formula.
Type the minus sign (-) as the first mathematical
Type B17 as the next cell referenced in the formula.
Press Enter to complete the formula. The result is
Change the value in cell B16 to 74500. The formula
recalculates the result in B18 to 67074.
EXERCISE Multiplying Values In A Formula
Select cell C17 and type an equal sign (=)
Type C16*.08 to multiply the Total Sales for
District 2 by 8%
Press Enter to complete the formula. The result
should be 1472.
ALTERNATIVE FORMULA ENTRY: =C16*8%.
EXERCISE Create A Formula That Calculates The Net Profit
For District 2.
Type an equal sign (=) into cell C18.
Click cell C16, type a minus sign (-)
Complete the Exercises.
Explain as you move
through the exercises.
Click cell C17.
Press Enter to complete the formula. The result
should be 16928.
Excel has built-in, special pre-written shortcut formulas called Functions.
Functions simplify and shorten formulas in worksheets, especially those that
perform lengthy or complex calculations.
A function always starts with an equal sign (=) followed by the function’s
name and, enclosed in parentheses, its arguments. Arguments may be cell
addresses, values, labels, or a combination of these, and may include other
functions or formulas as arguments.
Excel provides Functions ScreenTips that display the function structure (i.e,
the function name and the order of its required arguments). For example, the
most used Function in Excel is the SUM function, which adds numbers in a
range of cells instead of having to type a formula containing each cell
COMMONLY USED FUNCTIONS
The AutoSum button, appearing on the Home and Formulas tabs,
quickly inserts the most used functions.
The AutoSum function calculates and enters the Sum function
for the adjacent range of cells in the Active cell. When clicked,
a blinking, colored border called a range finder defines the
suggested range. Clicking the AutoSum button at the end of a
row suggests the contiguous row of values to the left of the
active cell whereas, clicking the bottom of a column suggests
contiguous column values above the active cell. If there are
values both above and to the left of the active cell, then Excel
suggests the contiguous column of values above the active cell.
To change the suggested range, click and drag to select the
cells or clear the values and press CTRL while clicking the
cells containing the desired values.
EXERCISE Using the AutoSum Feature
Click cells C9 and D9. The selected cells become
Click the AutoSum button. The values calculate
automatically to 7495 and 7628, respectively.
Define and explain how
to use functions to create
Explain the function
=Sum(B5:B8) in cell B9.
Discuss the AutoSum
shortcut and the range
automatically selects cell
Click in each individual cell to view the formula
Click cell F9. The selected cell becomes active.
Click the AutoSum button. The selected range
includes the column values above the cell, although
the cells to the left contain values.
Press Enter. The result is 5401.
The AutoSum button also provides a drop-list arrow that, when
clicked displays the most commonly-used functions: Sum,
Average, Count Numbers, Max, Min, and More functions.
Average returns the mean of the values in a range of cells,
Count Numbers returns the number of cells containing numeric
values, Max returns the highest value, and Min returns the
lowest value in the range. The More Functions command opens
the Insert Function dialog box, which accesses all Excel
Each of these functions automatically uses the cell range
immediately adjacent to the active cell for the suggested range.
After typing an equal sign (=) and the beginning letters of a formula,
the Formula AutoComplete feature displays valid functions, table
names and text strings that match the letters in a dynamic drop-down
list. Refine the range of options by continuing to type trigger letters or
scroll through the list using keys on the keyboard. Detailed ScreenTips
help to make the best choice.
Formula names are not case sensitive. If a manually entered argument
contains a period instead of a COLON at the end of the first reference
cell in the argument, Excel automatically replaces the period with a
colon (i.e. Excel changes =sum(a1[.]a3) to =sum(a1[:]a3). Excel also
adds the closing parenthesis to a functional argument when omitted
during manual entry
The Insert Function dialog box simplifies using functions in a
worksheet. When unsure of the proper function syntax, or needing help
to enter a function into a formula or simply cannot remember the name
of the required function, click the Insert Function button in the
formula bar to open the Insert Function dialog box.
Click cell F9 and use the
AutoSum drop list to
select each of the
functions, and note the
Discuss the formula
and its use.
Click cell B12 and begin
typing the formula (=M
+ I+ N). Show students
how Excel provides a list
of show functions
matching the typed
Discuss the Insert
and its use to enter
The Insert Function dialog box provides several options to assist with
Search by description for a mathematical equation. For
example, typing the description, get the percentage of a range
of numbers, displays an alphabetical list of recommended
functions in the Select a function list.
Select a Category to displays only the functions within that
category. Select the All option to display all the available
functions in alphabetical order.
Clicking on a function displays its structure and description. Selecting
a function opens the Function Arguments dialog box. Enter the
corresponding cell address, range, or numerical value for each
argument in the edit boxes. An explanation of the selected function,
argument, and the current result appear below the list of edit boxes
when entering the arguments.
The edit boxes contain a Collapse Dialog button, which collapses the
Function Arguments dialog box to enable cell or cell range selection
from the worksheet. Use the Expand Dialog button to redisplay the
full dialog box after selecting the cell(s).
Click the Help on this function hyperlink at the bottom-left of the
Insert Function or Function Arguments dialog box for assistance
when using a function.
The AutoCalculate feature simultaneously uses all of the AutoSum
feature to calculate a selected range of cells without supplying a
formula, and displays the results temporarily on the Status Bar. Use
AutoCalculate to spot-check a worksheet for accuracy or for quick
answers to basic calculations.
Except for the Count function, AutoCalculate ignores all cells that do
not contain a numeric entry. AutoCalculate also calculates multiple,
Manually edit cell references or adjust the range of cells to modify a formula.
Easily adjust a cell range by modifying its border.
Demonstrate using the
Click cell H5
Click Insert Function
Type average in the
Search box and press
Click the Collapse
Dialog button and
Click the Expand
Dialog button. Show
the result in the dialog
Select B5:D8. The
results of the enabled
functions display in the
Explain how to modify
a formula by adjusting
cell range borders.
MODIFYING FORMULA RANGE BORDERS
Excel displays colored borders to identify cell ranges used in formulas.
The borders also contain square handles at each corner to use for
adjusting the active range.
Drag a range border to include a different group of cells altogether, or
resize the border to reference fewer or more cells. Adjusting a range
border automatically changes the corresponding range reference in the
EXERCISE Modify a Formula with Range Borders
Double-click cell F9 to activate the border.
Point to the range handle at the top-right corner of
cell F5. A diagonal, double-headed arrow appears.
Drag the range handle down to include fewer cells.
Point to the range handle in Cell F7.
Drag the range handle up to include only F5 and
Point to the range border for cells F5:F6 until the
pointer changes to a black, four-headed arrow.
Drag the range border down to include only F7:F8
Press Enter. The modified formula with a green
triangle in the upper left corner appears in cell F9.
Excel senses an error.
POINT TO A BORDER ON ANY SIDE OF THE RANGE TO MOVE A
REFERENCED RANGE WITHOUT CHANGING ITS SIZE.
Excel’s error-checking feature automatically checks formulas against a pre-
existing set of rules. A colored triangle, referred to as an error-checking smart
tag, appears in the upper-left corner of a cell suspected of containing an error.
Placing the cursor on the smart tag displays the reason for flagging the
Excel’s error check rules include checking for numbers stored as text,
omitting a cell in a continuous range, and cell range inconsistencies between
range used and adjacent cells.
Clicking the error checking smart tag displays a list of commands to
automatically correct the error, ask for help in correcting the error, ignore the
error, or edit the error in the formula bar.
Explain and demonstrate
the Formula checking
and correction options.
Click the error checking
smart tag drop-list arrow
in cell F9.
Click Update Formula to
Include Cells. The
formula updates to
include cells F5:F8.
Explain how to modify a
formula by adjusting cell
Have students practice
modifying borders in a
cell range to edit a
EXERCISE If time permits have students complete the
Exercise document DM# 3230188
complete the exercise
if time permits.