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In Excel for Mac 2011 Essential Training, author Curt Frye gives a comprehensive overview of Excel, the full-featured spreadsheet software from Microsoft. The course covers key skills such as manipulating workbook and cell data, using functions, automating actions, printing worksheets, and collaborating with others. Exercise files accompany the course.
Many Excel formulas include arithmetic operators, such as the Plus sign and the Minus sign. But Excel doesn't just read your formula from left to right and take the operations in order; instead, Excel has a strict order in which it performs the operations. This worksheet displays the list of operators you can use in Excel and the order in which it processes them. I'll explain what the symbols mean and how they work within formulas. First, Excel checks whether a value is negative. Then it checks if a value is expressed as a percentage. If a value is expressed as a percentage, then Excel treats it as if it were divided by 100.
In other words, 75% is exactly the same as 0.75. So as an example, let's say that we have just the value -3, which is displayed as -3. If you have the value 75 percent, you type in 75 and then a percent sign, and you have the value 75%. That's also displayed here on the formula bar. If you were to type a formula where you multiplied 4 by 75%, so that would be =4*75%, and press Return, you get 300%, but because the value in the cell was expressed as a percent, you're dividing by 100.
So if we change it back to a regular number value by applying the Comma Number format, you see that it's expressed as the number 3. After verifying whether a value is negative and whether it's expressed as a percentage, Excel starts with the other operations. The first priority is exponentiation, where a value is multiplied by itself a specific number of times. The symbol for an exponent is the caret, which you type by pressing Shift+6, or as I think of it, capital six. So, for example, if you type =2^3 or two to the third, and press Return, you get the answer 8; =2^4, Return is 16; and so on.
The next operations in order are multiplication and division, followed by addition and subtraction. So just continuing on in the cell, let's say that I have 4+5 - that's 9 - and the Formula 4*5 - times being the asterisk - 5 is 20. Excel examines the formula before it starts making any calculations, and if it finds two operators of the same level, it performs them in left to right order. As an example, let's say that we have the formula =10/2*9+3.
This formula would be interpreted as 10 divided by 2, which is 5, times 9, which is 45, plus 3, which is 48. So when we press Return, we get the answer of 48. You can change the order of operations in a formula by adding parentheses. As an example, let's say that we have the formula =9*2+3. So in other words we have 9 times 2, because multiplication is done before addition or subtraction, and then you take that total, plus 3.
So the answer is 21. On the other hand, if you add parentheses around 2+3, which I'll do here on the formula bar, type a left parenthesis here and a right parenthesis here, that means that Excel will add 2 plus 3 and then multiply that total by 9. So when I press Return, we should get the answer of 45. Finally, you can also use comparison operators equal, greater than, greater than or equal to, less than, less than or equal to, and does not equal to create formulas that return a result of true or false.
For example, if you want to ask, is 10 the same as 9, you would type =10=9. Now, you are not creating two formulas; instead, you are using the comparison operator of equal to ask whether 10 is equal to 9. When you press Return, the answer is false. If you were to type =10>9 and press Return, you would get the answer of true. Always be sure to verify that your formulas operations occur in the desired order. If you're getting an answer you don't expect, that's a great first place to look for an error.
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