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

While the Function Library is a great place to browse for functions, sometimes you may prefer to search for one instead. You can do so using the Insert Function command. It may take some trial and error depending on the type of function you're looking for; however, with practice, the Insert Function command can be a powerful way to find a function quickly.

To use the Insert Function command:

In the example below, we want to find a function that will calculate the number of business days it took to receive items after they were ordered. We'll use the dates in columns E and F to calculate the delivery time in column G.

  1. Select the cell that will contain the function. In our example, we'll select cell G3.
    Selecting a cell
  2. Click the Formulas tab on the Ribbon, then click the Insert Function command.
    Insert Function command
  3. The Insert Function dialog box will appear.
  4. Type a few keywords describing the calculation you want the function to perform, then click Go. In our example, we'll type count days, but you can also search by selecting a category from the drop-down list.
    Searching for a function
  5. Review the results to find the desired function, then click OK. In our example, we'll choose NETWORKDAYS, which will count the number of business days between the ordered date and received date.
    Selecting a function
  6. The Function Arguments dialog box will appear. From here, you'll be able to enter or select the cells that will make up the arguments in the function. In our example, we'll enter E3 in the Start_date field and F3 in the End_date field.
  7. When you're satisfied, click OK.
    Function argument
  8. The function will be calculated, and the result will appear in the cell. In our example, the result shows that it took four business days to receive the order.
    Function result

Like formulas, functions can be copied to adjacent cells. Simply select the cell that contains the function, then click and drag the fill handle over the cells you want to fill. The function will be copied, and values for those cells will be calculated relative to their rows or columns.

Using the fill handle

To learn more:

If you're comfortable with basic functions, you may want to try a more advanced one like VLOOKUP. Check out our article on How to Use Excel's VLOOKUP Function for more information.

To learn even more about working with functions, visit our Excel Formulas tutorial.

Challenge!

  1. Open our practice workbook.
  2. Click the Challenge tab in the bottom-left of the workbook.
  3. In cell F3, insert a function to calculate the average of the four scores in cells B3:E3.
  4. Use the fill handle to copy your function in cell F3 to cells F4:F17.
  5. In cell B18, use AutoSum to insert a function that calculates the lowest score in cells B3:B17.
  6. In cell B19, use the Function Library to insert a function that calculates the median of the scores in cells B3:B17. Hint: You can find the median function by going to More Functions > Statistical.
  7. In cell B20, create a function to calculate the highest score in cells B3:B17.
  8. Select cells B18:B20, then use the fill handle to copy all three functions you just created to cells C18:F20.
  9. When you're finished, your workbook should look like this:

    Functions Challenge