Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Function Argument Types
Literal values as arguments
A literal argument refers to a value or text string that you enter directly. For example, the SQRT
function, which calculates the square root of a number, takes one argument. In the following
example, the formula uses a literal value for the function’s argument:
=SQRT(225)
Using a literal argument with a simple function like this one usually defeats the purpose of using
a formula. This formula always returns the same value, so you could just as easily replace it with
the value 15. You may want to make an exception to this rule in the interest of clarity. For
example, you may want to make it perfectly clear that you are computing the square root of 225.
Using literal arguments makes more sense with formulas that use more than one argument. For
example, the LEFT function (which takes two arguments) returns characters from the beginning
of its first argument; the second argument specifies the number of characters. If cell A1 contains
the text Budget , the following formula returns the first letter, or B:
=LEFT(A1,1)
Expressions as arguments
Excel also enables you to use expressions as arguments. Think of an expression as a formula
within a formula (but without the leading equal sign). When Excel encounters an expression as a
function’s argument, it evaluates the expression and then uses the result as the argument’s value.
Here’s an example:
=SQRT((A1^2)+(A2^2))
This formula uses the SQRT function, and its single argument appears as the following expression:
(A1^2)+(A2^2)
When Excel evaluates the formula, it first evaluates the expression in the argument and then
computes the square root of the result.
Other functions as arguments
Because Excel can evaluate expressions as arguments, it shouldn’t surprise you that these
expressions can include other functions. Writing formulas that have functions within functions is

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