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Formulas and functions are the building blocks of working with numeric data in Excel. This article introduces you to formulas and functions.

In this article, we will cover the following topics.

Tutorials DataFor this tutorial, we will work with the following datasets.

Home supplies budget

S/N ITEM QTY PRICE SUBTOTAL Is it Affordable?

1

Mangoes

9

600

2

Oranges

3

1200

3

Tomatoes

1

2500

4

Cooking Oil

5

6500

5

Tonic Water

13

3900

House Building Project Schedule

S/N ITEM START DATE END DATE DURATION (DAYS)

1

Survey land

04/02/2023

07/02/2023

2

Lay Foundation

10/02/2023

15/02/2023

3

Roofing

27/02/2023

03/03/2023

4

Painting

09/03/2023

21/03/2023

What is Formulas in Excel?FORMULAS IN EXCEL is an expression that operates on values in a range of cell addresses and operators. For example, =A1+A2+A3, which finds the sum of the range of values from cell A1 to cell A3. An example of a formula made up of discrete values like =6*3.

=A2 * D2 / 2HERE,

"=" tells Excel that this is a formula, and it should evaluate it.

"A2" * D2" makes reference to cell addresses A2 and D2 then multiplies the values found in these cell addresses.

"/" is the division arithmetic operator

"2" is a discrete value

Formulas practical exerciseWe will work with the sample data for the home budget to calculate the subtotal.

Create a new workbook in Excel

Enter the data shown in the home supplies budget above.

Your worksheet should look as follows.

We will now write the formula that calculates the subtotal

Set the focus to cell E4

Enter the following formula.

=C4*D4HERE,

"C4*D4" uses the arithmetic operator multiplication (*) to multiply the value of the cell address C4 and D4.

Press enter key

You will get the following result

The following animated image shows you how to auto select cell address and apply the same formula to other rows.

Mistakes to avoid when working with formulas in Excel

Remember the rules of Brackets of Division, Multiplication, Addition, & Subtraction (BODMAS). This means expressions are brackets are evaluated first. For arithmetic operators, the division is evaluated first followed by multiplication then addition and subtraction is the last one to be evaluated. Using this rule, we can rewrite the above formula as =(A2 * D2) / 2. This will ensure that A2 and D2 are first evaluated then divided by two.

To ensure that you are working with the correct cell addresses referenced in the formulas, you can press F2 on the keyboard. This will highlight the cell addresses used in the formula, and you can cross check to ensure they are the desired cell addresses.

When you are working with many rows, you can use serial numbers for all the rows and have a record count at the bottom of the sheet. You should compare the serial number count with the record total to ensure that your formulas included all the rows.

What is Function in Excel?FUNCTION IN EXCEL is a predefined formula that is used for specific values in a particular order. Function is used for quick tasks like finding the sum, count, average, maximum value, and minimum values for a range of cells. For example, cell A3 below contains the SUM function which calculates the sum of the range A1:A2.

SUM for summation of a range of numbers

AVERAGE for calculating the average of a given range of numbers

COUNT for counting the number of items in a given range

The importance of functionsFunctions increase user productivity when working with excel. Let’s say you would like to get the grand total for the above home supplies budget. To make it simpler, you can use a formula to get the grand total. Using a formula, you would have to reference the cells E4 through to E8 one by one. You would have to use the following formula.

= E4 + E5 + E6 + E7 + E8With a function, you would write the above formula as

=SUM (E4:E8)As you can see from the above function used to get the sum of a range of cells, it is much more efficient to use a function to get the sum than using the formula which will have to reference a lot of cells.

Common functionsLet’s look at some of the most commonly used functions in ms excel formulas. We will start with statistical functions.

S/N FUNCTION CATEGORY DESCRIPTION USAGE

01

SUM

Math & Trig

Adds all the values in a range of cells

=SUM(E4:E8)

02

MIN

Statistical

Finds the minimum value in a range of cells

=MIN(E4:E8)

03

MAX

Statistical

Finds the maximum value in a range of cells

=MAX(E4:E8)

04

AVERAGE

Statistical

Calculates the average value in a range of cells

=AVERAGE(E4:E8)

05

COUNT

Statistical

Counts the number of cells in a range of cells

=COUNT(E4:E8)

06

LEN

Text

Returns the number of characters in a string text

=LEN(B7)

07

SUMIF

Math & Trig

=SUMIF(range,criteria,[sum_range])

08

AVERAGEIF

Statistical

=AVERAGEIF(range,criteria,[average_range])

=AVERAGEIF(F4:F8,”Yes”,E4:E8)

09

DAYS

Date & Time

Returns the number of days between two dates

=DAYS(D4,C4)

10

NOW

Date & Time

Returns the current system date and time

=NOW()

Numeric FunctionsAs the name suggests, these functions operate on numeric data. The following table shows some of the common numeric functions.

S/N FUNCTION CATEGORY DESCRIPTION USAGE

1

ISNUMBER

Information

Returns True if the supplied value is numeric and False if it is not numeric

=ISNUMBER(A3)

2

RAND

Math & Trig

Generates a random number between 0 and 1

=RAND()

3

ROUND

Math & Trig

Rounds off a decimal value to the specified number of decimal points

=ROUND(3.14455,2)

4

MEDIAN

Statistical

Returns the number in the middle of the set of given numbers

=MEDIAN(3,4,5,2,5)

5

PI

Math & Trig

Returns the value of Math Function PI(π)

=PI()

6

POWER

Math & Trig

POWER( number, power )

=POWER(2,4)

7

MOD

Math & Trig

Returns the Remainder when you divide two numbers

=MOD(10,3)

8

ROMAN

Math & Trig

Converts a number to roman numerals

=ROMAN(1984)

String functionsThese basic excel functions are used to manipulate text data. The following table shows some of the common string functions.

S/N FUNCTION CATEGORY DESCRIPTION USAGE COMMENT

1

LEFT

Text

Returns a number of specified characters from the start (left-hand side) of a string

=LEFT(“GURU99”,4)

Left 4 Characters of “GURU99”

2

RIGHT

Text

Returns a number of specified characters from the end (right-hand side) of a string

=RIGHT(“GURU99”,2)

Right 2 Characters of “GURU99”

3

MID

Text

=MID (text, start_num, num_chars)

=MID(“GURU99”,2,3)

Retrieving Characters 2 to 5

4

ISTEXT

Information

Returns True if the supplied parameter is Text

=ISTEXT(value)

value – The value to check.

5

FIND

Text

=FIND(find_text, within_text, [start_num])

=FIND(“oo”,”Roofing”,1)

Find oo in “Roofing”, Result is 2

6

REPLACE

Text

=REPLACE (old_text, start_num, num_chars, new_text)

=REPLACE(“Roofing”,2,2,”xx”)

Replace “oo” with “xx”

Date Time FunctionsThese functions are used to manipulate date values. The following table shows some of the common date functions

S/N FUNCTION CATEGORY DESCRIPTION USAGE

1

DATE

Date & Time

Returns the number that represents the date in excel code

=DATE(2023,2,4)

2

DAYS

Date & Time

Find the number of days between two dates

=DAYS(D6,C6)

3

MONTH

Date & Time

Returns the month from a date value

=MONTH(“4/2/2023”)

4

MINUTE

Date & Time

Returns the minutes from a time value

=MINUTE(“12:31”)

5

YEAR

Date & Time

Returns the year from a date value

=YEAR(“04/02/2023”)

VLOOKUP functionThe VLOOKUP function is used to perform a vertical look up in the left most column and return a value in the same row from a column that you specify. Let’s explain this in a layman’s language. The home supplies budget has a serial number column that uniquely identifies each item in the budget. Suppose you have the item serial number, and you would like to know the item description, you can use the VLOOKUP function. Here is how the VLOOKUP function would work.

=VLOOKUP (C12, A4:B8, 2, FALSE)HERE,

"=VLOOKUP" calls the vertical lookup function

"C12" specifies the value to be looked up in the left most column

"A4:B8" specifies the table array with the data

"2" specifies the column number with the row value to be returned by the VLOOKUP function

"FALSE," tells the VLOOKUP function that we are looking for an exact match of the supplied look up value

The animated image below shows this in action

Download the above Excel Code

SummaryExcel allows you to manipulate the data using formulas and/or functions. Functions are generally more productive compared to writing formulas. Functions are also more accurate compared to formulas because the margin of making mistakes is very minimum.

Here is a list of important Excel Formula and Function

SUM function = =SUM(E4:E8)

MIN function = =MIN(E4:E8)

MAX function = =MAX(E4:E8)

AVERAGE function = =AVERAGE(E4:E8)

COUNT function = =COUNT(E4:E8)

DAYS function = =DAYS(D4,C4)

VLOOKUP function = =VLOOKUP (C12, A4:B8, 2, FALSE)

DATE function = =DATE(2023,2,4)

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