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Excel 2003 Essential Training with Mark Swift is a movie-based workshop for users who are new to working with spreadsheets, or those wanting to improve their skills. This workshop begins with a basic overview of the application and quickly advances to cover useful formulas, functions, techniques for enhancing spreadsheets, charts, and much more. Exercise files accompany the training, allowing you to follow along and learn at your own pace.
Now that we've had a chance to see what formulas can do, let's take a look at adding functions to those formulas and see what the big deal is. Well if you browse with me to your Student folder, and in Section 7, Basic Functions we have another version of Quarterly_ Sales. Let's open that up. Here our Quarterly_Sales totals are looking at your First Quarter, Second Quarter, Third Quarter, etc., as well as the East, West, North, South, and the formulas that we're using there haven't changed from what we've seen previously. This clumsy formula, B2 + B3 + B4 + B5, is exactly the way we left it. Functions can help change that and simplify the formula a great deal. As a matter fact, I couldn't imagine living without functions as soon as your spreadsheet gets to a point where it's unruly. It would just be a nightmare. So the difference between adding one cell after another explicitly in using a function, is that a function can handle a range very, very simply. So let's replace this formula with a new one and we'll use the sum function. = SUM, functions are always in capital letter, (B2:, through and we use a full colon to show through, B5), and Enter. We have the same value now in B7, but the formula is much more elegant.
We can do the same thing again here. = SUM (, as soon as I open that braces we can click and drag to select the range that we want to add in there. We'll close that off and hit Enter. Now you notice here I selected a range that was named, so instead of inserting the cell references, as we here, it inserted the name of that range. By doing it, it lost the intuitive formatting, but that's no problem, we can right-click and choose Format and go to Currency and now that cell looks exactly the way the others did. There's value in formatting a cell ahead of time. We can do that by clicking and dragging here, right-click, Format Cells, and we'll choose Currency, OK. Now these cells are prepared, when we enter our formula, =SUM, and select our range, Third Quarter), Enter. Now it knows that it's a currency value going in there. Here's the problem with using a named range reference. It's both an advantage and a disadvantage. If I wanted to click and drag and copy that formula over, you'll notice that our new value is the same, yet our sales totals are different. It's because any time you use a named range or a named constant, that value is absolute, not relative. So we can't simply copy over a value which is why this version of the formula is an advantage in this particular spreadsheet. I'm going to click and drag over all three of those cells and replace the named range values with simply a range of cells that represent the appropriate quarter. We can do the same thing with this value. =SUM(B2:E2), Enter, and copy that value down. Since we have a blank row, I'll just delete it from there and now we have a very nice complete looking spreadsheet that summarizes the totals for the entire East division as well as the First Quarter, and it gives you an annual total based on the four quarter results. Using the sum function as opposed to an explicit cell reference formula is faster, and it's going to be easier to handle when your spreadsheet grows in size. You'll notice down here that we have Average, Highest Sales, and Lowest Sales. Another great function is the average function. =AVERAGE, and we'll give it a range to work with. Let's look at the average for the first quarter. B2:B5, Enter. The average sales for the first quarter between all four divisions is 28,965. Now the actual formula to calculate an average may be a lot more complex, but the average function is as easy to use as naming the function and naming the values that you want to apply that to. There are other ways to enter function values. For example, if we select the cell opposite Highest Sales, we can use the Formatting toolbar, drop-down, and choose Max. To extract our highest sales, we're going to use the Max function which looks at a range of cells and takes the highest value.
Again, the formula that it would take to compare all these cells and pull out the highest values may be very complex, but the Max function is easy to use. Click on Max and right away it's looking to the cell above it. Well that's not the area we want to look at. Let's click and drag across the entire year and hit Enter. For the range of cells, all four quarters in all four divisions, the highest sales total is 59,600, and it did that with a comparison formula that would be lengthy to write, but easy to use when combined with a function. Yet another way to utilize functions is with the Function Wizard. The Function Wizard can help you develop a more complex function while still guiding you through the process. Let's select Lowest Sales. This time instead of using the Max function, we're going to use the MIN function. But to do it we're going to use the Function Wizard. Let's go up to Insert > Function and here we have the first screen of the Function Wizard. A little bit of explanation, category listing, exactly what you need to do to move forward with building a function.
Search for a function: Type a brief description of what you want to do and then click Go. It has a search engine built in so you can roughly describe what you want to accomplish and let it guide you through the rest of the process. Very intuitive. So let's describe looking for the lowest value; lowest value. And right away it comes up at the MIN function, so we'll select MIN and say OK. Now it's asking us for the range of cells that we want to compare. Well, we can type that value in here or simply select the range, and when we release our mouse, the selection is added in to the value for MIN. Say OK, and the lowest value for sales over all four quarters in all four divisions: 12,670. One last point that I'd like to make is when a formula or a function is calculated.
Although there's no advantage here to holding off our calculations, there may be a time when you want your formulas to update at specific intervals, or only upon instruction. You can do that if you go up to your Tools menu and choose Options. The Calculation tab contains an option that allows you to change the calculation of formulas from Automatic to Manual and then of course you can use the F9 key to calculate your formulas and update your values after you've done a series of entries.
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