Excel Basics

Excel basics: YOUR OBJECTIVE

You want to do a few calculations in different workbooks. To do this you need to know how to enter formulas in the Excel application. This learning module”Excel basics” will show you the basics for this.

Excel basics: HOW DOES IT WORK?

Formulas in Excel follow a specific pattern. They always start with an equal sign (=). Then the data you want to calculate with and the mathematical operators follow. You can use cell contents, functions and numbers as data.

The illustration shows a few examples of formulas and the excel basic arithmetic operations.

The usual mathematical rules apply: Multiplication and division take precedence over addition and subtraction, meaning they are done first. If you want to deviate from this order, use brackets.

You can also enter cell references in a formula as shown in the above illustration, e.g. “=” and “B2″, then “+” and finally “B3″. However, everyday practice shows that this method can easily lead to errors. It’s very easy to mistype a cell reference. So use the “pointing method” instead. Once you have entered the equal sign, Excel switches to the pointing mode automatically. If you click in a cell in this mode, the reference to this cell is included in the formula. All you have to enter on your keyboard is the equal sign and the mathematical operators.

The way to enter a formula in the pointing mode, for instance, would be like this:

Click in cell B5,

Type “=”,

Click in cell B2,

Type “+”,

Click in cell B3.

You can see this result in cell B5 now:

Confirm your entry by pressing the [Enter] key. The result of you calculation is displayed in cell B5 now:

If you select cell B5 again, the formula contained in this cell is displayed in the formula bar:

The advantage of entering a formula in the pointing mode is that changed values are updated immediately in the calculations. So if you change the value in a cell, all calculations referring to this cell are updated automatically.

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