Whether you want to calculate your monthly home expenses or analyze a set of complex data, Microsoft Excel will be the best tool. It is very handy with simple user interface. You can create charts and reports within a short time. Excel offers numerous functions and formulas to make your work easier.

Many people use the terms ‘functions’ and ‘formulas’ interchangeably. However, there is a difference. The formula involves equations that include various mathematical symbols. Formulas, on the other hand, are predefined calculations. These functions let you do complex calculations quickly and with great accuracy. By learning some of these functions you can become more efficient in your work. Here is a list of the most important and frequently used Excel functions.

This formula is used for calculating the total number of cell values. It is used in basic calculations, as well as, budgeting and financial analysis. The syntax of the formula is:

=SUM(range)

For example, if you want to calculate the total cost of groceries you bought from the supermarket today, then use this formula:

=SUM(B2:B9)

Here the cost of individual grocery items are entered in cells B2 to B9. You can either type B2:B9 in the formula bar. Or select B2 first with your cursor, drag it down till you reach B9, and then press enter. You will find the sum in cell B10.

*Fig 1: Sum Function in Excel*

This formula will calculate the average value of the selected cell values.

=Average(range)

Suppose you want to calculate the average marks obtained by a student in an exam. Your formula should be:

=Average(F2:F6)

If you remember, the formula that you learned in your school for average was:

Average = Total / Number of terms

Instead of calculating the average this way, the ‘average’ formula in Excel directly calculates it by taking the values from cells F2 to F6. You can write down each cell number separately using commas as well. For example:

=Average (F**2,F3,F4,F5,F**6)

**Fig. 3: COUNT function in Excel**

This function lets you find quickly the minimum value within a given range of numbers. It is very useful in data analysis for identifying trends, and other things. You can also compare data using this function. For example, to find the lowest mark obtained by a student, you must write:

=MIN(range)

*Fig 4: MIN function in Excel*

MAX is similar to MIN, except that it provides the maximum value in the range. For example, to find the maximum value a student obtained, you should write:

=MAX(range)

*Fig, 5: MAX function of Excel*

To come to a logical conclusion regarding a set of data, you use the ‘IF’ function. For example, if a student gets marks below 50, then the outcome is ‘Fail’; otherwise, ‘Pass’.

*Fig 6: IF function of Excel*

To apply the formula in other cells as well, just drag the ‘+’ sign on the right bottom of the cell where you wrote the function. Now it will be applied to all the cells you want. You can embed several IFs as well for multiple conditions.

These are the basic functions in Excel that you may need to use often. By learning how to use them accurately can save you a lot of time. It can also eliminate errors that you may encounter if it is done manually without using the function. You will become more efficient in your Excel-related work if you start using these functions.

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