In Excel complex formulas can include several operations. Use complex formulas in Excel to calculate more extensive data.

### Complex formulas defined

Simple formulas have one mathematical operation. **Complex formulas** involve more than one mathematical operation.

The order of mathematical operations is important. If you enter a formula that contains several operations—like adding, subtracting, and dividing—Excel 2003 knows to work these operations in a specific order. The order of operations is:

- Operations enclosed in parenthesis
- Exponential calculations (to the power of)
- Multiplication and division, whichever comes first
- Addition and subtraction, whichever comes first

Using this order, let's see how the formula **120/(8-5)*4-2** is calculated in the following picture:

Let's take a look at another example:

**2*(6-4) =?**

Is the answer 8 or 4? If you ignored the parentheses and calculated in the order in which the numbers appear, 2*6-4, you'd get the wrong answer, 8. You must follow the order of operations to get the correct answer.

#### To calculate the correct answer:

- Calculate the operation in parenthesis (6-4), where the answer is 2.
- Multiply the answer obtained in step 1, which is 2, to the numeric 2* that opened the equation. In other words, multiply 2*2.
- The answer is 4.

When using **formulas** with cell references, the results change each time the numbers are **edited**.

Remember: In Excel, never do math "in your head" and type the answer in a cell where you would expect to have a formula calculate the answer.