Excel: Introduction to functions


Because of the amount of typing involved and the typing mistakes you sometimes make, you feel it is troublesome to use formulas to add together any more than two numbers. For that reason, you would like to find a faster and less error-prone method to do so. Moreover, you often deal with lists of numbers for which you would like calculate the numerical average; sometimes you also want to know how many values appear in a list. For these and many other purposes, Excel is equipped with a variety of functions that can handle large amounts of data and accurately perform many services for you.

In this learning module “ Excel: Introduction to functions”, you will find out what Excel functions are and how to use them.

Excel Introduction – HOW DOES IT WORK?

Excel Introduction:  One of the most frequently used functions is SUM. This function is used to add up a series of numbers. Of course, you could always enter a formula that references each and every value in a list – for example: = D1+D2+D3+D4+D5+D6+D7+D8+D9+D10+D11. But that would involve a lot of typing and clicking and would demand your fullest concentration so as not to make a mistake. Beyond that, your results would turn out incorrect if you happened to miss referencing even one of the cells. With long lists, it would be impossible to type references to all the cells yourself.

The preceding illustration shows you the general construction of an Excel function. Functions always start with an equal sign (=) followed by the name of the function in capital letters. (You actually can write the name in lowercase letters if you want; if you spell it correctly, Excel will automatically convert it to uppercase.) The function name is followed by a pair of parentheses. The function’s arguments are always bracketed by those parentheses. Arguments are information that a function requires to calculate its result. The number of arguments permitted or required by a function varies from function to function. In a function that uses more than one argument, the arguments are separated by semicolons (;). Some examples:

=SUM(E5:E16) –> 1 argument

=TODAY() –> no argument

=IF(C13>35;C12+5;C12+8) –> 3 arguments

In general, functions are used in a fashion very similar to formulas:

  • Display mode can be used for identifying cell references.
  • Functions can be copied to other cells.
  • Absolute references, if needed, can be created by pressing the [F4] key.

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