Working with Basic Functions

When using Excel functions play an important role in finding values for a range of cells. Learn all about using functions in Excel.


Basic Functions A function is a predefined formula that performs calculations using specific values in a particular order. While you may think of formulas as being short mathematical equations, like 2+2 or F2*C2, they can actually be very lengthy and involve complex mathematical calculations.

One of the key benefits of functions is that they can save you time because you do not have to write the formula yourself. For example, you could use an Excel function called Average to quickly find the average of a range of numbers or the Sum function to find the sum of a cell range.

In this lesson, you will learn how to use basic functions such as SUM and AVERAGE, use functions with more than one argument, and access other Excel 2007 functions.

Basic functions

The parts of a function:

Each function has a specific order, called syntax, which must be strictly followed for the function to work correctly.

Syntax order:

  1. All functions begin with the = sign.
  2. After the = sign, define the function name (e.g., Sum).
  3. Then there will be an argument. An argument is the cell range or cell references that are enclosed by parentheses. If there is more than one argument, separate each by a comma.

An example of a function with one argument that adds a range of cells, A3 through A9:

Function With One Argument

An example of a function with more than one argument that calculates the sum of two cell ranges:

Function With Two Arguments

Excel literally has hundreds of different functions to assist with your calculations. Building formulas can be difficult and time consuming. Excel's functions can save you a lot of time and headaches.

Excel's different functions

There are many different functions in Excel 2007. Some of the more common functions include:

Statistical functions:

Financial functions:

Date and time functions:

You don't have to memorize the functions, but you should have an idea of what each can do for you.

To calculate the sum of a range of data using AutoSum:

Calculate Sum with AutoSum

Excel will not always tell you if your formula contains an error, so it's up to you to check all of your formulas. To learn how to do this, read the Double-Check Your Formulas lesson from our Excel Formulas tutorial.

To edit a function:

Edit Range

To calculate the sum of two arguments:

Insert Function Dialog Box
Function Arguments
Function Arguments Second Function

To calculate the average of a range of data:

Accessing Excel 2007 functions

To access other functions in Excel:

If you're comfortable with basic functions, you may want to try a more advanced one like VLOOKUP. You can check out our article on How to Use Excel's VLOOKUP Function for more information. If you want to learn even more about functions, check out our Excel Formulas tutorial.


Use the Inventory workbook or any workbook you choose to complete this challenge.