Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**Building Basic Formulas**

Creating a Basic

Formula

• To view any formula (for example, to gain some insight into how Excel

produced a displayed result), you must move to the cell containing the formula, and

then look in the
formula bar
(see Figure 17-1). The formula bar also doubles as

a handy tool for editing your formulas.

• Formulas can evaluate a combination of numbers you input (useful when you

want to use Excel as a handy calculator) or, more powerfully, the contents of

other cells. Formulas can even process an entire group of cells when using

certain functions.

One of the simplest formulas you can create is this one:

=1+1

The equal sign’s how you tell Excel that you’re entering a formula (as opposed to a

string of text or numbers). The formula that follows is what you want Excel to

calculate. Note that the formula doesn’t include the
result
. When creating a formula in Excel,

you write the question, and then Excel coughs up the answer, as shown in Figure 17-1.

Figure 17-1:

Top: This simple formula begins

its life when you enter it into

a cell. The checkmark and X

buttons to the left of the formula

bar let you quickly complete

or cancel, respectively, your

formula.

Bottom: Or you can press Enter,

and Excel displays the result in

the cell. The formula bar always

displays the complete formula

(=1+1). In formula lingo, this

particular example consists of

two literal values (1 and 1) and

one arithmetic operator (+).

All formulas use some combination of the following ingredients:

•
The equal sign
(=). Every formula must begin with the equal sign. It signals to

Excel that the cell contains a formula, not just ordinary text.

•
The simple operators
. These ingredients include everything you fondly

remember from high-school math class, including addition (+), subtraction (−),