When using Excel functions play an important role in finding values for a range of cells. Learn all about using functions in Excel.
Creating a function
There are a variety of functions available in Excel. Here are some of the most common functions you'll use:
- SUM: This function adds all of the values of the cells in the argument.
- AVERAGE: This function determines the average of the values included in the argument. It calculates the sum of the cells and then divides that value by the number of cells in the argument.
- COUNT: This function counts the number of cells with numerical data in the argument. This function is useful for quickly counting items in a cell range.
- MAX: This function determines the highest cell value included in the argument.
- MIN: This function determines the lowest cell value included in the argument.
To create a function using the AutoSum command:
The AutoSum command allows you to automatically insert the most common functions into your formula, including SUM, AVERAGE, COUNT, MIN, and MAX. In the example below, we'll use the SUM function to calculate the total cost for a list of recently ordered items.
- Select the cell that will contain the function. In our example, we'll select cell D13.
- In the Editing group on the Home tab, click the arrow next to the AutoSum command. Next, choose the desired function from the drop-down menu. In our example, we'll select Sum.
- Excel will place the function in the cell and automatically select a cell range for the argument. In our example, cells D3:D12 were selected automatically; their values will be added to calculate the total cost. If Excel selects the wrong cell range, you can manually enter the desired cells into the argument.
- Press Enter on your keyboard. The function will be calculated, and the result will appear in the cell. In our example, the sum of D3:D12 is $765.29.
The AutoSum command can also be accessed from the Formulas tab on the Ribbon.
You can also use the Alt+= keyboard shortcut instead of the AutoSum command. To use this shortcut, hold down the Alt key and then press the equals sign.
Watch the video below to see this shortcut in action.
To enter a function manually:
If you already know the function name, you can easily type it yourself. In the example below (a tally of cookie sales), we'll use the AVERAGE function to calculate the average number of units sold by each troop.
- Select the cell that will contain the function. In our example, we'll select cell C10.
- Type the equals sign (=), and enter the desired function name. You can also select the desired function from the list of suggested functions that appears below the cell as you type. In our example, we'll type =AVERAGE.
- Enter the cell range for the argument inside parentheses. In our example, we'll type (C3:C9). This formula will add the values of cells C3:C9, then divide that value by the total number of values in the range.
- Press Enter on your keyboard. The function will be calculated, and the result will appear in the cell. In our example, the average number of units sold by each troop is 849.
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.