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In Depth Information

**Building Basic Formulas**

chapter

17

Building Basic Formulas

Most Excel fans don’t turn to the world’s leading spreadsheet software just

to create nicely formatted tables. Instead, they rely on Excel’s

industrialstrength computing muscle, which lets you reduce reams of numbers to

neat subtotals and averages. Performing these calculations is the first step to

extracting meaningful information out of raw data.

Excel provides a number of different ways to build formulas, letting you craft them

by hand or point-and-click them into existence. In this chapter, you’ll learn about all

of these techniques. You’ll start by examining the basic ingredients that make up any

formula, and then take a close look at the rules Excel uses when evaluating a formula.

Creating a Basic Formula

First things first: what exactly do formulas do in Excel? A
formula
is a series of

instructions that you place in a cell in order to perform some kind of calculation.

These instructions may be as simple as telling Excel to sum up a column of numbers,

or they may incorporate advanced statistical functions to spot trends and make

predictions. But in all cases, all formulas share the same basic characteristics:

• You enter each formula into a single cell.

• Excel calculates the result of a formula every time you open a spreadsheet or

change the data a formula uses.

• Formula results are usually numbers, although you can create formulas that

have text or Boolean (true or false) results.