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.

The Insert Function command

The Insert Function command is convenient because it allows you to search for a function by typing a description of what you're looking for or by selecting a category to peruse. The Insert Function command can also be used to easily enter or select more than one argument for a function.

Using the Insert Function command

In this example, we want to find a function that will count the total number of supplies listed in the Office Supply Order Log. The basic COUNT function only counts cells with numbers; we want to count the cells in the Office Supply column, which uses text. Therefore, we'll need to find a formula that counts cells with text.

  1. Select the cell where the answer will appear (A27, for example).
  2. Click the Formulas tab, then select the Insert Function command.
    Insert Function commandInsert Function command
  3. The Insert Function dialog box will appear.
  4. Type a description of the function you are searching for, then click Go (Count cells with text, for example). You can also search by selecting a category.
    Searching for a functionSearching for a function
  5. Review the results to find the function you want (COUNTA, for example). Click OK.
    Reviewing function search resultsReviewing function search results
  6. The Function Arguments dialog box will appear. Insert the cursor in the first field, then enter or select the cell(s) you want (A6:A14, for example).
    Selecting cell range for Value1 fieldSelecting cell range for Value1 field
  7. Insert the cursor in the next field, then enter or select the cell(s) you want (A19:A23, for example). You can continue to add additional arguments if needed.
    Selecting cell range for Value2 fieldSelecting cell range for Value2 field
  8. Click OK, and the result will appear. Our results show that 14 Total Supplies were ordered from our log.

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.