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.

Simple formulas

Video: Simple Formulas in Excel 2010

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A formula is an equation that performs a calculation. Like a calculator, Excel can execute formulas that add, subtract, multiply, and divide.

One of Excel's most useful features is its ability to calculate using a cell address to represent the value in a cell. This is called using a cell reference.

To maximize the capabilities of Excel, it is important to understand how to create simple formulas and use cell references.

Optional: You can download this example for extra practice.

Creating simple formulas

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

The key thing to remember when writing formulas for Excel is that all formulas must begin with an equals sign (=). This is because the cell contains—or is equal to—the formula and its value.

Standard operators

To create a simple formula in Excel:

  1. Select the cell where the answer will appear (B4, for example).
    Selecting cell B4 Selecting cell B4
  2. Type the equals sign (=).
  3. Type in the formula you want Excel to calculate (75/250, for example).
    Entering formula in B4 Entering formula in B4
  4. Press Enter. The formula will be calculated, and the value will be displayed in the cell.
    Result in B4 Result in B4

If the result of a formula is too large to be displayed in a cell, it may appear as pound signs (#######) instead of a value. This means the column is not wide enough to display the cell content. Simply increase the column width to show the cell content.