Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**Editing Formulas**

Using Parentheses to Control the Order of Operations

You can use as many parentheses as you want in a formula. Excel performs the calculation within

the left-most parentheses ﬁrst, and then performs the calculation within the next set of parentheses

moving to the right. For example, consider the formula =(A2–B2)–4*(C2/D2), and the values A2=32,

B2=20, C2=10, and D2=5. Excel ﬁrst takes A2 minus B2, or 32–20=12. Next, Excel takes C2 divided

by D2 since it is also in parentheses, to get 10/5=2. Excel performs the multiplication next, taking

4 times the result of C2/D2 (which is 2) to get 8. Finally, Excel subtracts 8 from the result of A2 minus

B2 (which is 12) to get 4 as the ﬁnal answer.

You can nest parentheses within parentheses if needed. Consider this formula: =((A2–B2)–4)*(C2/D2).

Excel performs the calculation in the innermost parentheses, subtracting B2 from A2, to get 12.

Next, Excel works outward to the next set of parentheses, and subtracts 4 from 12 to get 8. Excel then

takes C2 divided by D2 since it is also in parentheses, to get 2. Excel performs the multiplication last,

taking 8 times 2 to get 16 as the ﬁnal result.

You can plug these same values into a worksheet and play with the formula, changing the order of

operations to something else in order to analyze the results.

Excel does not let
you enter formulas

that make no sense, such as trying to divide

something by zero. Such formulas are flagged

as errors. You learn how to identify and fix these

errors in Chapter 4, “Troubleshooting Formula

Errors.” Still, it’s easy to make errors on your

own, by accidentally referencing the wrong cell,

or forgetting to use parentheses to control the

order of operations. Luckily, editing a formula is

similar to editing other data in a worksheet.

Follow these steps:

1.
Click the cell that contains the formula.

Remember, this cell displays the formula

result, and not the formula, in the cell.

However, after you click the cell, the formula

appears in the Formula bar.

2.
Click within the Formula bar, or press F2 to

begin editing. Cells referenced in the formula

are surrounded by colored borders, as shown

in Figure 2-6.