Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**CHAPTER 1 Functions Overview**

1

CHAPTER

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.

Arguments

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.