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.

Figure 1-19:

Getting a

message

from Excel.

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)