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Understanding formulas and functions

From: Excel 2010 Essential Training

Video: Understanding formulas and functions

Let's talk a little bit about calculations. Excel does calculations using formulas and using functions. Yes, I know the term sounds similar. So let's make this a little bit more clear. Formulas and functions are the same in that they always start with an equal sign. There's never any exception. When you're calculating in pencil and paper, well the equals sign comes in the middle, doesn't it? Well, that's not the way it is with Excel. With Excel, you always start it at the beginning. So let's talk a little bit about formulas.

Understanding formulas and functions

Let's talk a little bit about calculations. Excel does calculations using formulas and using functions. Yes, I know the term sounds similar. So let's make this a little bit more clear. Formulas and functions are the same in that they always start with an equal sign. There's never any exception. When you're calculating in pencil and paper, well the equals sign comes in the middle, doesn't it? Well, that's not the way it is with Excel. With Excel, you always start it at the beginning. So let's talk a little bit about formulas.

Formulas are basic arithmetic: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and exponents. And if you're not familiar, an exponent is simply raising something to a power. Like if you're taking a number and squaring it or cubing it. Well, let's take a look at what's happening in Excel. In this workbook, we have a very simple formula. And I think it'll make sense to you if we do this kind of the wrong way first, and then the right way. In the first worksheet here, the Formulas worksheet, we have got a couple of numbers, right? There is one number.

There is another number, and two ways of calculating it. This way I have it hard-coded and this way I have it using a formula. Now, the formula here, I'm simply saying = 2 + 2. But we don't really want to do that. We really want to say not what is 2+2, but what is the total of this cell, D4, where Column D meets Row 4, plus the content of this cell, D5. So the wrong way is to say =2+2.

The right way is to say equals the contents of D4 plus the content of D5. You might wonder well, what's the big difference? They're both fine, they both have the correct number. But what if we do this? Let's take that number, and let's just change that. I'll just change it to a 3 and Enter. Well, now this is wrong, because it's still 2+2. So this formula has absolutely nothing to do with what's happening over there, because it's 2+2. It's not the content of D4 and D5. This one has a correct number because this formula is D4+D5.

Let's talk about functions here. There are over 300 functions and don't worry, we are not going to go through every single one. But you should know that there are functions for so many different tasks. Finance, statistics, engineering, physics, and so on. So functions are like pre-made named formulas. Every one has its own specific task, and they all use at least one set of parentheses. Let's take a look at the syntax. The general syntax of a function is you have the equal sign, we know that.

Then you have the name of the function and then you have at least one set of parentheses. Now, in the parenthesis, some functions will have a lot inside the parenthesis. There are some functions that had nothing inside the parenthesis, but you have to have at least one. Well, here are some sample functions. An Average function, if you want to take the average of some numbers. You might want to take the square root of some numbers. Or you might want to figure out what's the payment if you are going to borrow some money and we have an interest rate, and payment periods and all that jazz.

So you could find out how much you're going to have to pay every month. We are going to use that also later in the course. So let's take a look at an example of using the function. In this workbook here, go down and click the functions worksheet. Now, assume we have a column of numbers and we want to get the average. Now, the wrong way to do it is to do it manually. And we could add up all of these numbers here in Column D and then divide by how many numbers there are. Well, that's really not a great way of doing it, because first thing we have to figure out is how many numbers are. I can click on the first one and see well it's Row 2, click on the last one see that's Row 15.

You could figure out there are 14 numbers, and that's not a very good way of doing it. You could select all of the numbers, and then down here in the status bar, this will show you that you have 14 selected. Still too prone for errors. But the thing is, you're looking at it and say well, wait a minute doing it the manual way, and I have this using the Average function, they are both correct. So what's the problem? Well, what happens if you change something? Let's take this number. Maybe if I just change a number, well the numbers are still correct. Now, I'll take this number here, and I'll change it, and the numbers are still the same.

But what happens if we delete a few? Now, all the sudden there aren't 14 numbers. There are 12 numbers. Well, this one is still divided by 14, so that's a wrong number. This one is using the Average function. And this is saying hey just take the average of this bunch of numbers. So that's why this is giving you the correct answer. So now that we see what formulas and functions are all about, let's go and do something useful with them.

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This video is part of

Image for Excel 2010 Essential Training
Excel 2010 Essential Training

80 video lessons · 127054 viewers

Bob Flisser
Author

 
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  1. 1m 35s
    1. Welcome
      57s
    2. Using the exercise files
      38s
  2. 19m 31s
    1. Exploring three common uses for Excel
      3m 17s
    2. Touring the interface
      3m 38s
    3. Finding the commands you need
      3m 51s
    4. Using Backstage view or the File tab
      3m 25s
    5. Maintaining file compatibility
      5m 20s
  3. 21m 23s
    1. Creating a worksheet
      5m 23s
    2. Techniques for copying and pasting
      3m 57s
    3. Entering data automatically with Auto Fill
      4m 37s
    4. Targeting large data groups
      4m 26s
    5. Changing a worksheet's structure
      3m 0s
  4. 47m 50s
    1. Understanding formulas and functions
      4m 41s
    2. Entering data in a worksheet
      3m 22s
    3. Adding numbers manually
      5m 1s
    4. Adding numbers using Sum and AutoSum
      6m 11s
    5. Adding a whole worksheet
      1m 48s
    6. Working with numbers in columns
      4m 53s
    7. Preventing errors using absolute references
      5m 57s
    8. Working with times and dates
      3m 8s
    9. Using IF
      4m 49s
    10. Using SUMIF and AVERAGEIF
      4m 15s
    11. Naming and using cell ranges
      3m 45s
  5. 33m 57s
    1. Formatting numbers and dates
      7m 6s
    2. Applying fonts, background colors, and borders
      4m 35s
    3. Adjusting columns, rows, and text
      5m 2s
    4. Using conditional formatting
      4m 6s
    5. Using custom conditional formatting
      5m 49s
    6. Adding pictures and shapes
      7m 19s
  6. 25m 27s
    1. Inserting SmartArt
      6m 54s
    2. Coordinating a look using themes
      3m 22s
    3. Applying built-in styles
      3m 16s
    4. Creating and sharing styles
      5m 33s
    5. Using templates
      4m 9s
    6. Creating and using original templates
      2m 13s
  7. 13m 23s
    1. Making the pieces fit
      4m 57s
    2. Inserting headers and footers
      3m 51s
    3. Printing and PDFs
      4m 35s
  8. 34m 3s
    1. Finding and replacing data
      3m 12s
    2. Freezing panes
      3m 0s
    3. Repeating row and column titles
      3m 34s
    4. Creating multiple custom worksheet views
      5m 18s
    5. Hiding or grouping rows and columns
      5m 31s
    6. Managing worksheets
      7m 23s
    7. Calculating formulas across worksheets
      6m 5s
  9. 36m 34s
    1. Importing and exporting data in Excel
      8m 2s
    2. Setting workbook permissions
      6m 44s
    3. Inserting and editing comments
      6m 49s
    4. Sharing a workbook
      1m 25s
    5. Tracking changes
      3m 5s
    6. Saving files in shared locations
      10m 29s
  10. 27m 30s
    1. Splitting cell data into multiple cells
      2m 22s
    2. Joining data from multiple cells
      4m 18s
    3. Basic and multi-field sorting
      6m 30s
    4. Using tables to sort and filter data
      4m 31s
    5. Inserting automatic subtotals
      3m 46s
    6. Creating lookup tables
      6m 3s
  11. 32m 56s
    1. Using auditing to diagram
      6m 3s
    2. Using evaluation in Excel
      2m 2s
    3. Working with Goal Seek
      5m 29s
    4. Using data tables in formulas
      6m 2s
    5. Using scenarios in formulas
      5m 28s
    6. Exploring the Analysis Toolpak
      7m 52s
  12. 18m 1s
    1. Discovering PivotTables
      2m 22s
    2. Creating a basic PivotTable
      2m 46s
    3. Modifying a PivotTable
      6m 57s
    4. Creating and modifying a PivotChart
      5m 56s
  13. 26m 58s
    1. Choosing chart types
      1m 55s
    2. Inserting Sparklines
      3m 54s
    3. Creating a column chart
      3m 23s
    4. Modifying a column chart
      5m 47s
    5. Creating and modifying a pie chart
      6m 45s
    6. Placing Excel charts into other Office applications
      5m 14s
  14. 21m 53s
    1. Understanding macros
      3m 5s
    2. Recording and using a simple macro
      11m 58s
    3. Editing a macro
      6m 50s
  15. 20m 33s
    1. Customizing the Quick Access toolbar
      3m 30s
    2. Customizing the Ribbon bar
      8m 44s
    3. Setting Excel options
      8m 19s
  16. 16s
    1. Goodbye
      16s

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