Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Exploring the syntax of functions
Exploring the syntax of functions
Worksheet functions have two parts: the name of the function and the arguments that
follow. Function names—such as SUM and AVERAGE—describe the operation the function
performs. Arguments specify the values or cells to be used by the function. For example,
the function ROUND has the following syntax: =ROUND( number , num_digits ), as in the
formula =ROUND(M30,2). The M30 part is a cell reference entered as the number argument—
the value to be rounded. The 2 part is the num_digits argument. The result of this function
is a number (whatever the value in cell M30 happens to be) rounded to two decimal places.
Parentheses surround function arguments. The opening parenthesis must appear
immediately after the name of the function. If you add a space or some other character between
the name and the opening parenthesis, the error value #NAME? appears in the cell.
Note
A few functions—such as PI, TRUE, and NOW—have no arguments. (You usually nest
these functions in other formulas.) Even though they have no arguments, you must
place an empty set of parentheses after them, as in =NOW( ), so that Excel knows they
are functions and not defined names.
When you use more than one argument in a function, you separate the arguments with
commas. For example, the formula =PRODUCT(C1,C2,C5) tells Excel to multiply the
numbers in cells C1, C2, and C5. Some functions, such as PRODUCT and SUM, take an
unspecified number of arguments. You can use as many as 255 arguments in a function, as long
as the total length of the formula does not exceed 8,192 characters. However, you can use
a single argument or a range that refers to any number of cells in your worksheet in a
formula. For example, the function =SUM(A1:A5,C2:C10,D3:D17) has only three arguments,
but it actually totals the values in 29 cells. (The first argument, A1:A5, refers to the range of
five cells from A1 through A5, and so on.) The referenced cells, in turn, can also contain
formulas that refer to more cells or ranges.
Expressions as arguments
You can use combinations of functions to create an expression that Excel evaluates
to a single value and then interprets as an argument. For example, in the formula
=SUM(SIN(A1 * PI( )),2 * COS(A2 * PI( ))) the comma separates two complex expressions that
Excel evaluates and uses as the arguments of the SUM function.
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