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We've had to review some pretty heavy concepts when learning how to work with formulas in excel. But Microsoft doesn't want it to be that difficult for people to use. So what they've done is they've come up with the Formulas tab, which houses a Function Library that you can access. Now what functions are, are predefined formulas that perform calculations by using specific values in a particular order. For example, AutoSum will automatically sum all of the values in a row or column that you define. We're going to take a look at some of the most commonly used functions in another chapter, but let's just see how we group the Function Library, in case you're interested in taking a look at these on your own.
You have a recently used grouping, which will house all of the most recently used functions for you, so that they're easy to grab, and you're not having to search for them. There's a Financial grouping of functions which help with financial and accounting calculations. There are a Logical grouping of functions which allow you to do comparisons; if this works then that works, if, for, and and conditional functions are included in there. You have a group of Text functions, which allows you to compare text into different columns or rows. You have Date and Time functions which allows you to do calculations based on date and time stamps.
You have Lookup & Reference functions, Math & Trigonometry functions and even more functions for engineering and higher-level calculations. You can also define names for ranges and cells within your spreadsheet so that you can refer to them based on a predefined name rather than a range. That's an advanced function that you can learn about in an upcoming course. You can also work with Formula Auditing and this helps you determine whether or not your formulas are correct. We can take really quick peek at this by clicking on a cell that has a formula in it, E3, and clicking Trace Precedents. So basically what that is going to do is to show arrows that indicate what cells affect the value of the currently selected cell. So what cells did I include to come up with the number 42? Click on the Trace Precedents, and you'll see that the arrows move from C3 through two D3 right over to E3.
So it's tracing the path of the calculations that are done. You can trace the dependents if this particular cell was to move on into other cells for calculation, you could click Trace Dependents and it would show you where that value is moving on to. Since this value is not used in any other calculations, there's not going to be anything shown here. You can remove the arrows very quickly by clicking on this particular command, but I want to leave it here just for one moment before we delete it because it is a very handy tool to use if you have a very complicated formula. Because it will help show where the information's coming from. Especially if it's giving you a number that you're not sure is right.
Because even though it's a computer calculation, it's dependent on your formula. So it's just doing what it's told. And sometimes you're not telling it to do the right thing. I'm going to remove the arrows here, and go over to the second column of commands in my Formula Auditing. I can click on Show Formulas which will actually expand my spreadsheet, even if I go down to the bottom and scroll to the right, you'll see that instead of seeing the number that's included in the final cost, or the answer, I actually see the formula that's included behind the scenes.
So again, this is good for your troubleshooting, if you have complicated formulas that aren't giving you the answers that you're anticipating. By deselecting the Show Formulas command, it pulls it back and presents me with my answers. Error Checking checks for common errors that occur in formulas. And you can click on that, and because my formulas are fairly straightforward, I have no problems with any errors in my spreadsheet. That's not often the case however. The Evaluate Formula command launches a dialog box which helps you evaluate the formula to help debug it.
Let's see how that works. I click on Evaluate Formula, and it's going to find the formula that's in the cell that I was sitting in. As I click Evaluate, it's going to paste in the information or the calculation based on what it has underlined. So it's going to grab the information in D3. What's sitting in D3 is the number 14. It's then going to go to C3 and grab that information. So now it's going to multiply 14*3. 14*3 is $42.
If I move over the dialog box, I see that the evaluation here is the same as the evaluation here, and I know that I calculated that correctly. And that's what I was expecting. I'll close that out. The final group of commands that we have are Calculate Options and basically here what you're determining is how you're going to calculate your spreadsheets. When do you want it to be calculated? Do you want it to be calculated automatically, every time you make a change? Do you want to have it calculated automatically except for your data tables, and you will manually determine when those are calculated? Or would you like to have manual calculations? And that is done when you hit the Enter key and not throughout the whole spreadsheet. It's nice to be able to have these options, especially when you have lots of calculations in your worksheet. Because when you have a lot of calculations, it may take a lot of time to do the calculations because there's information that is dependant on the other.
And that may not be appropriate if I was going to change the number in one particular cell, I don't necessarily want the whole worksheet to recalculate every time I make one change, I just want to make a bunch of changes and then calculate it out. This particular calculation options gives you the opportunity to determine when that's going to happen. So you can see that working with functions is a challenging piece within Excel, but is not overwhelming. In the next chapter we're going to be taking a look at how we can use the Function Library to help us with our calculations.
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