Creating Simple Formulas

When using formulas in Excel you can add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Use simple Excel formulas to also make cell references in Excel.

About formulas

In school, you learned formulas to calculate math problems. Microsoft Excel uses these same formulas to perform calculations in a spreadsheet.

A formula can be a combination of values (numbers or cell references) and math operators (+, -, /, *, =) into an algebraic expression. Excel requires every formula to begin with an equals sign (=).

The following table illustrates the mathematical operators learned in school and those represented in Excel 2003.

SchoolExcel 2003
Addition++
Subtraction--
MultiplicationX*
Division//
Equals==

The result of a formula—the answer to 2+3, for example—displays in the cell on the Excel worksheet. The formula is visible only in the Formula bar. A formula's result will change as different numbers are entered into the cells included in the formula's definition.

The Formula Bar