You can use formulas in Excel and other spreadsheet programs to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Use simple Excel formulas to also make cell references.

### Introduction

#### Video: Simple Formulas

Watch the video (3:14).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.

Standard operators 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.

Using cell references to recalculate a 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:

Examples of simple formulas