Understanding Functions

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 18, 2018)

1

You already know that Excel allows you to create formulas in the cells that make up your worksheets. To make your formulas even more powerful, Excel provides well over 200 functions you can use. These functions facilitate everything from simple summation to complex financial and mathematical models. The basic functions can loosely be divided into categories such as database, date and time, financial, information, logical, lookup and reference, math and trig, statistical, and text. When you use add-ins with Excel, the number of available functions can increase even more.

As an example of how functions are used, suppose you need a formula that returns the sum of the cells in C7 through C19. Rather than put together a formula that uses the plus sign for each of the cells in the range, you can use the following formula:

=SUM(C7:C19)

The name of the function used here is SUM, and it uses the arguments indicated between the parentheses. In this case, the cell range C7 through C19 serve as the argument for the function. (The colon between the cell references indicates a range. It tells Excel that it should include everything between the two cells.)

While SUM is a rather simple function, Excel includes many others that provide a multitude of capabilities. For instance, suppose you want to determine how much money you would have in the bank after 20 years if you participated in a semi-monthly payroll deduction program. If the program paid a fixed interest rate of 5.75% and you had $125 deducted every pay period, you could use the following formula:

=FV(5.75%/24,20*24,—125)

The result of the function in this formula is $112,374.89. If you wanted to play "what-if" scenarios, you could set up the formula to use cell references. Because the formula relies on the values in the cells referenced, any changes to the basic values in those cells results in an automatically recomputed future value.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (1953) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Displaying the AutoShapes Menu

AutoShapes are very useful for adding common drawing shapes to your document. You can make the AutoShapes easier to ...

Discover More

Switching Editing Location

Excel allows you to edit the contents of a cell in two places—the cell itself or in the Formula bar. If you want to ...

Discover More

Turning Off the 'Welcome Back' Notice

When you open a document that you previously edited, Word displays a message the right side of the screen about jumping ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Converting to Hexadecimal

Excel allows you to easily convert values from decimal to other numbering systems, such as hexadecimal. This tip explains ...

Discover More

Converting to Octal

If you need to do some work in the base-8 numbering system (octal), you'll love two worksheet functions provided by Excel ...

Discover More

Using the WEEKNUM Function

Need to know which week of the year a particular date falls within? Excel provides the WEEKNUM function so you can easily ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 2 + 9?

2015-04-18 13:41:10

Joe

Thanks


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.