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Understanding Excel formulas
Understanding Excel formulas
Formulas play a critical role in Excel, allowing you to perform calculations on the data
in your worksheet. You can build simple to complex formulas by using the tools that
Excel provides.
Formula
A formula is a mathematical equation used to calculate a value. In Excel, a formula must
begin with an equal sign (=). The equal sign tells Excel to interpret the data in the cell as a
formula. For example, if you type =2+6 in a cell, Excel displays a result (8).
Operator
An operator is a sign or symbol specifying the type of calculation to perform, such as a plus
sign (+). In the formula =B1+B2, the operator is the plus sign which adds the values in cells
B1 and B2.
Operand
Every Excel formula includes at least one operand, which is the data that Excel uses in the
calculation. The simplest type of operand is a number; however, most Excel formulas include
references to worksheet data, such as a cell address (B1).
Arithmetic formula
An arithmetic formula combines a numeric operand (a number or a function that returns
a numerical value as a result) with an operator to perform a calculation. As you can see
in the following table, there are seven arithmetic operators you can use to construct
arithmetic formulas.
Examples of arithmetic formulas:
OPERATOR
NAME
EXAMPLE
RESULT
+
= 10 + 5
15
-
Subtraction
= 10 – 5
5
-
Negation
= -10
-10
*
Multiplication
= 10 * 5
50
/
Division
= 10 / 5
2
%
Percentage
= 10%
0.1
^
Exponentiation
= 10 ^ 5
100000
Comparison formula
A comparison formula combines a numeric operand, such as a whole number, with special
operators to compare one operand with another. A comparison formula returns a logical
result of 0 or 1. This means that if the comparison is true, the formula returns a value of 1,
and if the comparison is false, the formula returns a value of 0.
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