Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Gaining the Upper Hand on Formulas
3. Multiplication and division
4. Addition and subtraction
This is a key point of formulas. It is easy to just accept a returned answer.
After all, Excel is so smart. Right? Wrong! Like all computer programs, Excel
can only do what it is told. If you tell it to calculate an incorrect but
structurally valid formula, it will do so. So watch your p’s and q’s! Er, rather your
parentheses and mathematical operators when building formulas.
The second type of error is when there is a mistake in the formula or in the
data the formula uses that prevents Excel from calculating the result. Excel
makes your life easier by telling you when such an error occurs. To be
precise, it does one of the following:
✓ Excel displays a message when you attempt to enter a formula that is
not constructed correctly.
✓ Excel returns an error message in the cell when there is something
wrong with the result of the calculation.
First, let’s see what happened when we tried to finish entering a formula that
had the wrong number of parentheses. Figure 1-19 shows this.
Excel finds an uneven number of open and closed parentheses. Therefore the
formula cannot work (it does not make sense mathematically), and Excel tells
you so. Watch for these messages; they often offer a solution.
On the other side of the fence are errors in returned values. If you got this
far, then the formula’s syntax passed muster, but something went awry
nonetheless. Possible errors are:
✓ Attempting to perform a mathematical operation on text
✓ Attempting to divide a number by 0 (a mathematical no-no)