Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
CHAPTER 1 Functions Overview
Functions Overview
Function Fundamentals
What is a function? A function in Excel is a built-in calculation that performs a
mathematical operation. For example, if I had a list of a thousand numbers and
wanted to manually look for the highest value, it could take a while. That’s where
Excel can help you out. It has a Max formula that searches a specified range and
places the highest value in the cell with the formula. Using another example, if
you wanted to calculate the average from a list of numbers, you could use the
Average function to calculate the average. In all, Excel has more than 450
mathematical calculations already created, so if you know which ones do what, you can
save countless hours. In addition to the numerous calculations already created,
you’ll also learn how to create your own functions. If you have specific
calculations that are customized to you or your business, it may warrant creating your
own set of custom functions.
Functions Versus Formulas
The function is the built-in mathematical calculation provided by Excel. The
formula is the function with its arguments. Each function is activated by the =
sign. For example, if you place the formula Average(B3:B20), where Average is
the function and (B3:B20) is the argument, nothing happens; however, place an =
sign in front of Average and it activates the formula. Think of it in terms of using
a key to start your car.
An argument is the reference behind the function. The reference being the
number, cell reference, or worksheet names. For example, if I were to calculate
the average of cells B3:B20 in a list, the argument is the cell-range reference
shown as (B3:B20) behind the function. Table 1.1 shows examples of arguments
used in Excel.
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