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Figure 3 – 30. Friendly arguments: a function-writing dialog box
These dialog boxes afford the users a fill-in-the-blanks motif, requesting them to enter essential bits of
information, technically called arguments (note the name of the dialog box in Figure 3–28), which when
entered enable Excel to calculate the answer you’re looking for. Let’s look at one such dialog box of a
function you already know: see Figure 3–28 for the dialog box for the COUNT function.
What sort of blanks are we asked to fill in here? In this case, ranges . I can type a range in the Value 1
field, or even drag that range on the worksheet itself. Either way the range is recorded in Value 1. If I
need to introduce a second range to COUNT, I can identify it in Value 2. And if I need even a third or
more ranges, a Value 3, etc., field appears. When I click OK, the COUNT function and result is instated in
whichever cell I had clicked before I called up the dialog box.
Remember, though, that the kinds of blanks you’ll see in the dialog box will depend on the function
you’ve selected, and you will need to have a pretty good idea what’s going on before you can proceed. So
if you remain daunted at this point, you can click the Help on this function link in the box’s lower left
corner; you’ll be whisked to a discussion of the function in Excel’s Help facility, which is usually pretty
While the buttons in the Function Library afford the most up-front way in which to access functions,
Excel makes other ways available, too. You can also click the fx button flanking the Formula Bar to its left
and call up this dialog box (Figure 3–31):
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