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Cell formulas in Excel spreadsheets

Cell formulas in Excel spreadsheets

© Ted French

Formulas in spreadsheet programs such as Excel are used to perform calculations.

Formulas can range from basic mathematical operations - such as addition and subtraction - to complex engineering and statistical calculations.

In programs such as Excel, Open Office Calc, and Google Spreadsheets, formulas begin with an equal ( = ) sign and, for the most part, they are entered into to the worksheet cell(s) where we want the results or answer to appear.

Writing Basic Formulas

Basic formulas involve entering, in the correct order, the data to be used in the calculations and the mathematical operators that tell the program which operation to perform.

Using Cell References in Formulas

Rather than enter the data directly into a formula, it is usual better to enter the cell references where the data is located into the formula.

The advantages of this are that:

  • if you later change your data the formula automatically updates to show the new result
  • in certain instances, using cell references makes it possible to copy formulas from one location to another in a worksheet

Built-in Formulas: Functions

Spreadsheet programs also contain a number of built-in formulas called functions.

Functions make it easier to carry out:

  • commonly performed tasks - such as adding up columns or rows of numbers
  • long or complex operations.
Alternate Spellings: formulae

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