Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**From Data Entry to Data Creation: Formula Basics and Beyond**

C H A P T E R 3

■ ■ ■

From Data Entry to Data Creation:

Formula Basics and Beyond

Now that we’ve gotten this far, we need to remind ourselves of the obvious: Excel is all about
doing

something with the data once it’s been nestled into its cells—analyzing it, presenting it, and synergizing

something new from all those static numbers and text entries; and that reminder takes us to a new

domain of have-to-knows—the world of
formulas
and
functions
. It’s here, once you learn the

fundamentals, that you begin to sense the nearly infinite potential of the application—starting of course

with the how-tos for adding those rows and columns.

The very first thing you need to know about formulas is that by that term I’m referring to
any

expression you can write in a cell which conjures something new from the existing data—and it doesn’t

have to work with numbers, either. Learning which, or how many, students in a lecture class have a last

name starting with the letter L or how many major league baseball players were born in Nevada may not

be what’s keeping you up at night, but if you need to know these things and the basic data are there,

there’s a formula-based way to find out.

The second indispensible thing to know about formulas is that they
always
begin with the equal

sign. This, then, is a formula:

=3+5

And this isn’t:

3+5

That latter expression is pure
text
, and won’t “do” anything more than appear in the cell in which

you inscribed it. The voice of experience is speaking: if you write a formula, no matter how ingenious

and complex, and you leave out the equal sign, what you get is text.

And since I seem to have written a formula just a few lines ago, let’s take a second look at it while it’s on

hand. Entering =3+5 in a cell will indeed yield the answer you’ve been looking for: 8, but we need to learn a

bit more about the relationship between that answer and the formula that gave rise to it.

Go to any cell, say B6, and type =3+5, followed as usual by Enter or any other navigational optionl

such as the checkmark. First, of course, the number 8 stations itself in the cell. Then click back on B6,

and take a look at the
Formula Bar
, shown in Figure 3–1: