Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**The Basics of Entering a Formula**

The order of precedence

When a formula includes more than one

operator, the order in which the operators appear in

the formula matters a lot. Consider this formula:

=2+3*4

Does this formula result in 14 (2+[3*4]) or 20

([2+3]*4)? The answer is 14 because Excel

performs multiplication before addition in

formulas. In other words, multiplication takes

precedence over addition.

The order in which calculations are made in

a formula that includes different operators is

called the
order of precedence.
Be sure to

remember the order of precedence when you

construct complex formulas with more than

one operator:

1. Percent (%)

2. Exponentiation (^)

3. Multiplication (*) and division (/); leftmost

operations are calculated first

4. Addition (+) and subtraction (-); leftmost

operations are calculated first

5. Concatenation (&)

6. Comparison (<, <=, >,>=, and <>)

To get around the order of precedence

problem, enclose parts of formulas in parentheses.

Operations in parentheses are calculated

before all other parts of a formula. For example,

the formula
=2+3*4
equals 20 when it is

written this way:
=(2+3)*4
.

Another way to compute a formula is to make use of a function. As “Working

with Functions” explains later in this chapter, a function is a built-in formula

that comes with Excel. SUM, for example, adds the numbers in cells. AVG

finds the average of different numbers.

The Basics of Entering a Formula

No matter what kind of formula you enter, no matter how complex the

formula is, follow these basic steps to enter it:

1.
Click the cell where you want to enter the formula.

2.
Click in the Formula bar if you want to enter the data there rather

than the cell.

3.
Enter the equal sign (=).

You must be sure to enter the equal sign before you enter a formula.

Without it, Excel thinks you’re entering text or a number, not a formula.