Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Cell References
Creating a Basic
Formula
1. Parentheses(anycalculationswithinparenthesesarealwaysperformedfirst)
2. Percent
3. Exponents
4. DivisionandMultiplication
Note: When Excel encounters formulas that contain operators of equal precedence (that is, the same
order of operation priority level), it evaluates these operators from left to right. However, in basic
mathematical formulas, this has no effect on the result.
For example, consider the following formula:
=5 + 2 * 2 ^ 3 - 1
To arrive at the answer of 20, Excel first performs the exponentiation (2 to the
power of 3):
=5 + 2 * 8 - 1
And then the multiplication:
=5 + 16 - 1
And then the addition and subtraction:
=20
To control this order, you can add parentheses. For example, notice how adding
parentheses affects the result in the following formulas:
5 + 2 * 2 ^ (3 - 1) = 13
(5 + 2) * 2 ^ 3 - 1 = 55
(5 + 2) * 2 ^ (3 - 1) = 28
5 + (2 * (2 ^ 3)) - 1 = 20
You must always use parentheses in pairs (one open parenthesis for every closing
parenthesis). If you don’t, then Excel gets confused and lets you know you need to
fix things, as shown in Figure 17-2.
Tip: Remember, when you’re working with a lengthy formula, you can expand the formula bar to see
several lines at a time. To do so, click the down arrow at the far right of the formula bar (to make it three
lines tall), or drag the bottom edge of the formula bar to make it as many lines large as you’d like.
Cell References
Excel’s formulas are handy when you want to perform a quick calculation. But if you
want to take full advantage of Excel’s power, then you’re going to want to use
formulas to perform calculations on the information that’s already in your worksheet. To
do that you need to use cell references —Excel’s way of pointing to one or more cells
in a worksheet.

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