Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**Understanding Excel Formulas**

Understanding

Excel Formulas

Although you can use Excel to create simple

databases to store text, numbers, dates, and other

data, the spreadsheets you create are also designed

to analyze data and make calculations. Therefore, to

get the most out of Excel, you need to understand

formulas so that you can use them to analyze and

perform calculations on your worksheet data.

To build accurate and useful formulas, you need to

know the components of a formula, including

operators and operands. You also need to understand

arithmetic and comparison formulas and you need to

understand the importance of precedence when

building a formula.

Formulas

A
formula
is a set of symbols and values that perform

some kind of calculation and produce a result. All Excel

formulas have the same general structure: an equal sign

(=) followed by one or more operands and operators.

The equal sign tells Excel to interpret everything that

follows in the cell as a formula. For example, if you

type
=5+8
into a cell, Excel interprets the 5+8 text as a

formula, and displays the result (13) in the cell.

Operands

Every Excel formula includes one or more
operands
, which are the data

that Excel uses in the calculation. The simplest type of operand is a

constant value, which is usually a number. However, most Excel

formulas include references to worksheet data, which can be a cell

address (such as A1), a range address (such as B1:B5), or a range

name. Finally, you can also use any of the built-in Excel functions as

an operand.

Operators

In an Excel formula that contains two or more operands, each operand

is separated by an
operator
, which is a symbol that combines the

operands in some way, usually mathematically. Example operators

include the plus sign (+) and the multiplication sign (*). For example,

the formula =B1+B2 adds the values in cells B1 and B2.