# Excel 2013

## Simple Formulas

### Introduction

One of the most powerful features in Excel is the ability to **calculate **numerical information using **formulas**. Just like a calculator, Excel can add, subtract, multiply, and divide. In this lesson, we'll show you how to use **cell references** to create simple formulas.

Optional: Download our practice workbook.

#### Mathematical operators

Excel uses standard operators for formulas, such as a **plus sign** for addition (**+**), a **minus sign** for subtraction (**-**), an **asterisk** for multiplication (*****), a **forward slash** for division (**/**), and a **caret** (**^**) for exponents.

All formulas in Excel must begin with an **equals sign** (**=**). This is because the cell contains, or is equal to, the formula and the value it calculates.

#### Understanding cell references

While you can create simple formulas in Excel manually (for example, **=2+2** or **=5*5**), most of the time you will use **cell addresses **to create a formula. This is known as making a **cell reference**. Using cell references will ensure that your formulas are always accurate because you can change the value of referenced cells without having to rewrite the formula.

By combining a mathematical operator with cell references, you can create a variety of simple formulas in Excel. Formulas can also include a combination of cell references and numbers, as in the examples below: