Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Ordering Up Your Results
Your answer should once again come to 246—but once you achieve that result we need to review
the process more closely, because you’re asking the obvious rhetorical question: That’s a lot of clicking,
isn’t it? And what if we wanted to add 90,000 numbers instead of 9? Stay tuned…but back to the formula
itself.
First, and as stressed earlier, the formula must begin with =. We then clicked on each cell to be
added, following each click with +, simply because we’re adding the numbers. Had we wanted to
subtract some or all of these we would have typed a minus sign instead.
Once we’re satisfied we’ve clicked on the right numbers, we press Enter—or Shift-Enter, Tab, or
Shift-Tab, or Ctrl-Enter (or click the checkmark, which in this case actually advances the cell pointer
down). And that’s how it works. Type =, click each of the cells you want to include in the calculation,
followed in each case by a mathematical operator such as + or - (more on this soon), and wind it all up
by tapping Enter, or one of the other possibilities cited above. And remember that you can click on cells
dispersed anywhere across the worksheet.
And if we’ve realized our result and then discover we’d made an error in data entry, say, the number
in cell B7 is really 15, not 5—all we need do is type the corrected number in that cell, and our formula in
cell B15 automatically recalculates to read 256. That’s because formulas don’t work with particular
values as such—rather, they work with whatever values have been entered in the cells to which they
refer. And this capacity of spreadsheets – —their ability to recalculate a change in data entry without
having to redesign the formula which does the calculation – —may stand as their single greatest
contribution to Western Civilization.
Now time for a couple of quick but necessary digressions. First, Table 3–1 shows a list of the basic
mathematical operators you can apply to formulas:
Table 3–1 List of Operators
Symbol
Operation
+
Addition
-
Subtraction
*
Multiplication
/
Division
^
Exponentiation, e.g., =4^2 equals 16
Ordering Up Your Results
Digression number 2. There’s another tricky set of rules you will need to understand—or review, as the
case may be—because you probably had to put up with some of these in school: the order of operation.
For example, what’s the answer to this formula?
=4*5+7
It could be 27—that is, 4x5 plus 7—or 48—4x12. Which is it? In this particular case you can resolve
the problem by surrounding the relevant numbers with parentheses, e.g.,
=(4*5)+7
Or
 
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