Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Ordering Up Your Results
Figure 3–5. AutoSum in the Formulas tab
And once you appreciate how AutoSum works—and it’s rather simple—you’ll go a long way toward
firming your grasp of the whole function genre.
So let’s try the following: click on the Home tab, if you’re not already there. Delete your answer in
cell B15, stay in that cell, and click AutoSum. You should see Figure 3–6:
Figure 3–6. A more efficient way to add all those cells
Then press Enter, and presto—your answer should materialize.
You see what’s happened. AutoSum installed a function—SUM—into the cell in which you clicked, a
cell that happens to be positioned directly below the range of numbers we wanted to add; and that’s a
range SUM automatically identified. That’s why it’s called AutoSum.
But before we return to the workings of SUM in particular, note some very basic principles of Excel
functions. First, apart form the equals sign (=), an open parenthesis always follows the name of the
function—here, SUM. Then some additional information—which could be a range and/or some other
entries, as you’ll see—follows, after which the expression is concluded with a close parenthesis. To
summarize the basic syntax for any function:
=NAME(various data in here)
Remember that the equals sign always appears at the outset of any formula, e.g,
=67+SUM(B6:B15000). (Here we’re describing the basic syntax of a function considered alone.) What
kind of data gets interposed between the parentheses depends on the function, as you’ll see; here, in our
current case, SUM identifies the range to be added.
Now back to AutoSum. We see that AutoSum indeed correctly identified the range we wanted to
add—and had that range, for example, been B6:B15000 instead, we could have clicked on cell B15001,
and proceeded to click AutoSum. We’d then see this in B15001:
 
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