Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
So far, you’ve learned how to build a formula by entering it manually. That’s a good
way to start out because it forces you to understand the basics of formula writing.
But writing formulas by hand is a drag; plus, it’s easy to type in the wrong cell
address. For example, if you type A2 instead of A3, you can end up with incorrect data,
and you won’t necessarily notice your mistake.
As you become more comfortable with formulas, you’ll find that Excel gives you a
few tools—like point-and-click formula creation and the Insert Function button—to
speed up your formula writing and reduce your mistakes. You’ll learn about these
features in the following sections.
Point-and-Click Formula Creation
Instead of entering a formula by typing it out letter-by-letter, Excel lets you create
formulas by clicking the cells you want to use. For example, consider this simple
formula that totals the numbers in two cells:
To build this formula by clicking, just follow these steps:
This cell’s where the result of your formula’s calculation will appear. While you
can pick any cell on the worksheet, A3 works nicely because it’s directly below
the two cells you’re adding.
The equal sign tells Excel you’re going to enter a formula.
You can move to this first cell by pressing the up arrow key twice, or by
clicking it with the mouse. You’ll notice that moving to another cell doesn’t cancel
your edit, as it would normally, because Excel recognizes that you’re building a
formula. When you move to the new cell, the cell reference appears
automatically in the formula (which Excel displays in cell A3, as well as in the formula
bar just above your worksheet). If you move to another cell, Excel changes the
cell reference accordingly.
Excel adds the + sign to your formula so that it now reads = +.
Again, you can move to A2 either by pressing the up arrow key or by clicking the
cell directly. Remember, you can’t just finish the formula by moving somewhere
else; you need to press Enter to tell Excel you’re finished writing the formula.