A formula is an equation that performs a calculation. Like a calculator, Excel can execute formulas that add, subtract, multiply, and divide.
One of Excel's most useful features is its ability to calculate using a cell address to represent the value in a cell. This is called using a cell reference.
To maximize the capabilities of Excel, it is important to understand how to create simple formulas and use cell references.
Optional: You can download this example for extra practice.
Creating simple formulas
Excel uses standard operators for equations, such as a plus sign for addition (+), minus sign for subtraction (-), asterisk for multiplication (*), forward slash for division (/), and caret (^) for exponents.
The key thing to remember when writing formulas for Excel is that all formulas must begin with an equals sign (=). This is because the cell contains—or is equal to—the formula and its value.
To create a simple formula in Excel:
- Select the cell where the answer will appear (B4, for example).
Selecting cell B4
- Type the equals sign (=).
- Type in the formula you want Excel to calculate (75/250, for example).
Entering formula in B4
- Press Enter. The formula will be calculated, and the value will be displayed in the cell.
Result in B4
If the result of a formula is too large to be displayed in a cell, it may appear as pound signs (#######) instead of a value. This means the column is not wide enough to display the cell content. Simply increase the column width to show the cell content.