Working with Basic Functions

Figuring out formulas for calculations you want to make in Excel can be tedious and complicated. Fortunately, Excel has an entire library of functions or predefined formulas that you can take advantage of. You may be familiar with common functions like sum, average, product or count, but there are hundreds of functions in Excel, even for things like formatting text, referencing cells, calculating financial rates, analyzing statistics, and more.

In this lesson, you will learn the basics of inserting common functions into your worksheet by utilizing the AutoSum and Insert Functions commands. You will also become familiar with how to search and find various functions, including exploring Excel’s Functions Library

A function is a predefined formula that performs calculations using specific values in a particular order. One of the key benefits of functions is that they can save you time since you do not have to write the formula yourself. Excel has hundreds of different functions to assist with your calculations.

In order to use these functions correctly, you need to understand the different parts of a function and how to create arguments in functions to calculate values and cell references.

The Parts of a Function


The order in which you insert a function is important. Each function has a specific order, called syntax, which must be followed for the function to work correctly. The basic syntax to create a formula with a function is to insert anequal sign (=), a function name (SUM, for example, is the function name for addition), and an argument. Arguments contain the information you want the formula to calculate, such as a range of cell references.

Working with Basic Arguments


Arguments must be enclosed in parentheses. Individual values or cell references inside the parentheses are separated by either colons or commas.

Colons create a reference to a range of cells. 

For example, =AVERAGE(E19:E23) would calculate the average of the cell range E19 through E23.

Commas separate individual values, cell references, and cell ranges in the parentheses. If there is more than one argument, you must separate each argument by a comma. 

For example, =COUNT(C6:C14,C19:C23,C28) will count all the cells in the three arguments that are included in parentheses.

Create a Basic Function in Excel

To Create a Basic Function in Excel:

  1. Select the cell where the answer will appear (F15, for example) 
  2. Type the equal sign (=) and enter the function name (SUM, for example).
  3. Enter the cells for the argument inside the parenthesis.
  4. Press Enter and the result will appear.
    Result

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