Entering Formulas

Formulas are a way of calculating one cell's entry based on what is in other cells.

You enter a formula in a cell just like you enter other data, by clicking and typing. A formula cell must start with an equals sign so that Excel knows it's a formula. Cell references are used to identify cells in the formula.

Example 1: We can calculate "two times the entry in C4 minus 3 times the entry in D2" and put the result in D5 using the formula =2*C4-3*D2 in cell D5 as shown below:

 
A
B
C
D
1
       
2
     
2
3
       
4
   
7
 
5
     
8

Notice that the actual formula doesn't appear in D5, only the result. You can see or edit the formula by clicking on a cell in Excel; the formula will appear in the entry area, as shown in the screenshot below:

Operations

Excel can carry out all the usual arithmetic operations on cells, plus a lot more. The common symbols Excel uses are listed below:

Symbol
Meaning
+
plus
-
minus
*
times
/
divided by
^
exponent

You can also use parentheses to group expressions. (When in doubt, use more parentheses!)

Note: the exponential function is not represented using ^. Excel has a special function EXP() to represent the exponential function; see Special Functions for more information.

More Examples:

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