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Excel formulas

Formulas are calculations that refer to the numerical content of other cells. When the content of the cell referred to in a formula changes, Excel recalculates the answer for you.

5 basics

  1. All Excel formulas start with an equal (=) sign. This tells Excel it is a formula.
  2. The answer to the formula displays in the cell that the formula is entered.
  3. Cells are referenced in a formula by their column-row identifier, i.e. A1, B2.
  4. The symbols for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are: + – * /
  5. You do not have to enter capital letters in your formula; Excel will automatically capitalise them.

Examples of simple formulas

=A1+A6 this Excel formula adds the contents of cell A1 and A6.

=A1+A2+A3 this Excel formula adds the contents of the three cells specified (see the SUM function for adding multiple numbers).

=A3-A1 this Excel formula subtracts the contents of cell A1 from the contents of cell A3.

=B2*B3 this Excel formula multiples the numbers in cells B2 and B3.

=G5/A5 this Excel formula divides G5 by A5 (NOTE: If you see the error message #DIV/O! in a cell, you are trying to divide by zero or a null value – which is not allowed).

=G5^2 this formula tells Excel to square the value in cell G5. The number after the caret is the exponent. Likewise, the formula H2^3 would cube the value in cell H2.

Sum and average

The following video has a section about formulas as well as functions such as sum and average.