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Writing the Formula

Writing Excel formulas is a little different than the way it is done in math class.

Excel formulas starts with the equal sign ( = ) rather than ending with it.

The equal sign always goes in the cell where you want the formula answer to appear.

The equal sign informs Excel that what follows is part of a formula, and not just a name or a
number.

Excel formulas look like this:

=3 + 2

rather than:

3+2=

Cell References in Formulas

While the formula in the previous step works, it has one drawback. If you want to change the
data being calculated you need to edit or rewrite the formula.

A better way would be to write formulas so that you can change the data without having to
change the formulas themselves.

To do this, you need to tell Excel which cell the data is located in. A cell's location in the
spreadsheet is referred to as its cell reference.

To find a cell reference, simply look at the column headings to find which column the cell is in,
and across to find which row it is in.

The cell reference is a combination of the column letter and row number -- such as A1, B3, or
Z345. When writing cell references the column letter always comes first.

So, instead of writing this formula in cell C1:


=3+2

write this instead:

= A1+A2

Updating Excel Formulas

When you use cell references in Excel formulas, the formulas will automatically update
whenever the relevent data in the spreadsheet changes.

For example, if you realize that the data in cell A1 should have been an 8 instead of a 3, you only
need to change the contents of cell A1.

Excel updates the answer in cell in cell C1. The formula, itself, doesn't need to change because it
was written using cell references.

Changing the data

1. Click on the cell A1


2. Type an 8
3. Press the ENTER key on the keyboard

The answer in cell C1 where the formula is, immediately changes from 5 to 10, but the formula
itself is unchanged.

Mathematical Operators

Creating formulas in Microsoft Excel is not difficult. Just combine the cell references of your
data with the correct mathematical operator.
The mathematical operators used in Excel formulas are similar to the ones used in math class.

• Subtraction - minus sign ( - )


• Addition - plus sign ( + )
• Division - forward slash ( / )
• Multiplication - asterisk (* )
• Exponentiation - caret (^ )

Order of Operations

If more than one operator is used in a formula, there is a specific order that Excel will follow to
perform these mathematical operations. This order of operations can be changed by adding
brackets to the equation. An easy way to remember the order of operations is to use the acronym:

BEDMAS

The Order of Operations is:

Brackets
Exponents
Division
Multiplication
Addition
Subtraction

How the Order of Operations Works

Any operation(s) contained in brackets will be carried out first followed by any exponents.

After that, Excel considers division or multiplication operations to be of equal importance, and
carries out these operations in the order they occur left to right in the equation.

The same goes for the next two operations – addition and subtraction. They are considered equal
in the order of operations. Which ever one appears first in an equation, either addition or
subtraction, is the operation carried out first.

Excel Formulas Tutorial Step 1: Entering the Data

Let's try a step by step example. We will write a simple formula in Excel to add the numbers 3 +
2.

Step 1: Entering the data


It's best if you first enter all of your data into the spreadsheet before you begin creating formulas.
This way you will know if there are any layout problems, and it is less likely that you will need
to correct your formula later.

For help with this tutorial refer to the image above.

1. Type a 3 in cell A1 and press the ENTER key on the keyboard.

2. Type a 2 in cell A2 and press the ENTER key on the keyboard.

Excel Formulas Tutorial Step 2: Add the Equal (=) Sign

When creating formulas in Microsoft Excel, you ALWAYS start by typing the equal sign. You
type it in the cell where you want the answer to appear.

For help with this example refer to the image above.

1. Click on cell C1(outlined in black in the image) with your mouse pointer.

2. Type the equal sign in cell C1.

Excel Formulas Tutorial Step 3: Add Cell References Using Pointing

After typing the equal sign in step 2, you have two choices for adding cell references to the
spreadsheet formula.

1. You can type them in or,

2. You can use an Excel feature called Pointing

Pointing allows you to click with your mouse on the cell containing your data to add its cell
reference to the formula.
After typing an equal sign in cell E3 in step 2:

1. Click on cell A1 with the mouse pointer to enter the cell reference into the formula
2. Type a plus (+) sign
3. Click on cell A2 with the mouse pointer to enter the cell reference into the formula
4. Press the ENTER key on the keyboard

The answer 5 should appear in cell C1.

If you have more than one row or column of data that you need to perform calculations on, it is
often possible to copy the first formula to other cells.

Formatting for Commas

1. Select cells B7 to C10 in the spreadsheet.


2. Choose Format > Cells from the menu to open the Format Cells dialog box.

With the Format Cells dialog box open:

Note: For help on these steps, refer to the image above.

1. Click on the Number Tab (circled in red in the image above)


2. Select Number in the Category Window.
3. Make sure that the Use 1000 Separator box is checked.
4. Change the number of decimal places to 2.

• When finished, Click OK at the bottom of the Format Cells dialog box.
Formatting for Percent

1. Select cell C4.


2. Choose Format > Cells from the menu to open the Format Cells dialog box.

With the Format Cells dialog box open:

Note: For help on these steps, refer to the image above.

1. Click on the Number Tab (circled in red in the image above).


2. Select Percentage in the Category Window.
3. Change the number of decimal places to Zero ( 0 ).

• When finished, Click OK at the bottom of the Format Cells dialog box.
Formatting for Currency

1. Select cells D7 to D10.


2. Choose Format > Cells from the menu to open the Format Cells dialog box.

With the Format Cells dialog box open:

Note: For help on these steps, refer to the image above.

1. Click on the Number Tab (circled in red in the image above).


2. Select Currency in the Category Window.
3. Change the number of decimal places to Zero ( 0 ).

• When finished, Click OK at the bottom of the Format Cells dialog box.

• We will be adding formulas to cells D7 to D10 with the net salary formula in Part 2 of
this tutorial.

Formatting for date

1. Select cells B12.


2. Choose Format > Cells from the menu to open the Format Cells dialog box.

With the Format Cells dialog box open:

Note: For help on these steps, refer to the image above.

1. Click on the Number Tab (circled in red in the image above).


2. Select Date in the Category Window.
3. Select *3/14/2001 in the Type Window.
• When finished, Click OK at the bottom of the Format Cells dialog box.

Formatting for Bold

1. Select cells B4in the spreadsheet.


2. Choose Format > Cells from the menu to open the Format Cells dialog box.

With the Format Cells dialog box open:

Note: For help on these steps, refer to the image above.

1. Click on the Font Tab (circled in red in the image above)


2. Select Bold in the Category Window.

• When finished, Click OK at the bottom of the Format Cells dialog box.
Formatting for background color

1. Select cells A2 to D2.


2. Choose Format > Cells from the menu to open the Format Cells dialog box.

With the Format Cells dialog box open:

Note: For help on these steps, refer to the image above.

1. Click on the Patterns Tab (circled in red in the image above).


2. Select the light purple color (or another that you prefer) from the color option.

• When finished, Click OK at the bottom of the Format Cells dialog box.
• Repeat above steps for the ranges A6 to D6 and A12 to D12.

Adding the data to an Excel Spreadsheet

Use the data below with the tutorial: Step by Step Excel Formatting.

To enter the data accurately,

1. Open a blank Excel spreadsheet file


2. Select the cell indicated by the cell reference provided.
3. Type the corresponding data into the selected cell.

Cell Data

A2 - Deduction Calculations for Employees


B4 - Deduction Rate:

C4 - .06

A6 - Last Name

B6 - Gross Salary

C6 - Deduction

D6 - Net Salary

A7 - Smith B.

B7 - 45789

A8 - Wilson C.

B8 - 41245

A9 - Thompson J.

B9 - 39876

A10 - James D.

B10 - 43211

A12 - Date: