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Learn how to use Excel formulas with step-by-step instruction on how to do simple calculations. Also learn how to identify formula errors and how to use absolute, relative and mixed references.

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Using Excel Formulas
Entering Formulas
Entering Formulas Manually
Entering Formulas by Pointing
Entering Formulas using the Formula Palette

Identifying Formula Errors
Using Absolute, Relative and Mixed References

Using Excel Formulas

You use Excel formulas to perform all sorts of calculations on the data that you enter. When you enter a formula into a cell, the cell displays the result of the formula.

You see the formula itself in the formula bar when the cell is activated.

Excel Formulas: formula bar example 1

The following table provides a list of operators that you can use in formulas.

Operator Name / Action
+ Addition
- Subtraction
* Multiplication
/ Division
^ Exponentiation (raised to a power)
= Logical comparison (equal to)
> Logical comparison (greater than)
< Logical comparison (less than)

Operator Precedence is the set of rules that Excel uses to perform its calculations in a formula. The following table lists the Excel operator precedence. This table shows that exponentiation has the highest precedence (that is, its performed first), and logical comparisons have the lowest precedence. If two operators have the same precedence, Excel performs the calculation from left to right.

You can override operator precedence by using parentheses in your formulas.

Symbol Operator Precedence
^ Exponentiation 1st
* Multiplication 2nd
/ Division 2nd
+ Addition 3rd
- Subtraction 3rd
= Equal to 4th
> Greater than 4th
< Less than 4th

Creating Excel formulas is a snap as long as you remember to begin every formula with an equal sign (=).

For example, suppose that you have a column of numbers that you want to add.

Cell B4 seems like a good spot to place your total, right?

So just follow these steps:

1. Type any value in cells B1, B2 and B3.
2. Select the cell where you want to place your formulas results (in this case, cell B4).
3. Type your formula: =B1+B2+B3
4. Press ENTER.

Your formula disappears from the cell, and the result appears in the cell that you selected.

Your formula (if you re-select the cell) appears in the formula bar.
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See also... Enter Formulas Manually
Enter Formulas by Pointing | Enter Formulas with the Formula Palette
 Identify Formula Errors | Using Absolute, Relative & Mixed References
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