Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**Using a Function in a Formula**

Functions

Figure 17-3:

After you type
=COM
, Excel

helpfully points out that it

knows only two functions that

start that way: COMBIN() and

COMPLEX(). If your fingers are

getting tired, use the arrow keys

to pick the right one out of the

list, and then click Tab to pop it

into your formula. (Or, you can

just double-click it.)

After you type the function name, add a pair of parentheses. Then, inside the

parentheses, put all the information the function needs to perform its calculations.

In the case of the COMBIN() function, Excel needs two pieces of information,

or
arguments
. The first is the number of items in the set (the 52-card deck), and the

second’s the number of items you’re randomly selecting (in this case, 5). Most

functions, like COMBIN(), require two or three arguments. However, some functions

can accept many more, while a few don’t need any arguments at all. Once again,

Formula AutoComplete guides you by telling you what arguments you need, as shown

in Figure 17-4.

Figure 17-4:

When you type the opening

parenthesis after a function

name, Excel automatically

displays a tooltip indicating what

arguments the function requires.

The argument you’re currently

entering is bolded in the tooltip.

The argument names aren’t

crystal clear, but if you already

know how the function works,

they’re usually enough to jog

your memory.

Once you type this formula into a cell, the result (2598960) appears in your

worksheet. In other words, there are 2,598,960 different possible five-card combinations

in any deck of cards. Rather than having to calculate this fact using probability

theory—or, heaven forbid, trying to count out the possibilities manually—the

COMBIN() function handled it for you.