Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**It Takes All Types**

The parentheses around the addition tell Excel that you want this operation

performed before the multiplication. If cell A2 contains the number 5, B2

contains the number 10, and C2 contains the number 2, Excel adds 5 and 10 to

equal 15 and then multiplies this result by 2 to produce the result 30.

In fancier formulas, you may need to add more than one set of parentheses,

one within another (like the wooden Russian dolls that nest within each

other) to indicate the order in which you want the calculations to take place.

When nesting parentheses, Excel first performs the calculation contained in

the most inside pair of parentheses and then uses that result in further

calculations as the program works its way outward. For example, consider the

following formula:

=(A4+(B4–C4))*D4

Excel first subtracts the value in cell C4 from the value in cell B4, adds the

difference to the value in cell A4, and then finally multiplies that sum by the

value in D4.

Without the additions of the two sets of nested parentheses, left to its own

devices, Excel would first multiply the value in cell C4 by that in D4, add the

value in A4 to that in B4, and then perform the subtraction.

Don’t worry too much when nesting parentheses in a formula if you don’t pair

them properly so that you have a right parenthesis for every left parenthesis

in the formula. If you do not include a right parenthesis for every left one, Excel

displays an alert dialog box that suggests the correction needed to balance the

pairs. If you agree with the program’s suggested correction, you simply click the

Yes button. However, be sure that you only use parentheses: ( ). Excel balks at

the use of brackets — [ ] — or braces — { } — in a formula by giving you an

Error alert box.

Formula flub-ups

Under certain circumstances, even the best formulas can appear to have

freaked out after you get them in your worksheet. You can tell right away

that a formula’s gone haywire because instead of the nice calculated value

you expected to see in the cell, you get a strange, incomprehensible message

in all uppercase letters beginning with the number sign (#) and ending with

an exclamation point (!) or, in one case, a question mark (?). This weirdness,

in the parlance of spreadsheets, is as an
error value.
Its purpose is to let you

know that some element — either in the formula itself or in a cell referred to

by the formula — is preventing Excel from returning the anticipated

calculated value.