Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Chapter 9: Playing with Formulas
Organizing formulas with parentheses
Formulas can be as simple as a single mathematical operator such as =D3*E4.
However, you can also use multiple mathematical operators, such as
=A4+A5*C7/F4+D9
There are two problems with using multiple mathematical operators. First,
they make a formula harder to read and understand. Second, Excel
calculates mathematical operators from left to right, based on precedence, which
means a formula may calculate results differently than you intended.
Precedence tells Excel which mathematical operators to calculate first, as
listed in Table 9-2. For example, Excel calculates multiplication before it
=A3+A4*B4+B5
Excel first multiplies A4*B4 and then adds this result to A3 and B5.
Table 9-2
Operator Precedence in Excel
Mathematical Operator
Description
: (colon)
(single space)
, (comma)
Reference operators
Negation
%
Percent
^
Exponentiation
*
/
Multiplication and division
+
&
Text concatenation
= < > <= >= <>
Comparison
Typing parentheses around cell references and mathematical operators not
only organizes your formulas, but also tells Excel specifically how you want to
calculate a formula. In the example =A3+A4*B4+B5, Excel multiplies A4 and B4
first. If you want Excel to first add A3 and A4, then add B4 and B5, and finally
multiply the two results together, you have to use parentheses, like this:
=(A3+A4)*(B4+B5)

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