Intro to Formulas

When using formulas in Excel you can add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Use Excel formulas to also make cell references in Excel.

To create a formula using the point-and-click method:

Instead of typing cell addresses manually, you can point and click the cells you want to include in your formula. This method can save a lot of time and effort when creating formulas. In our example below, we'll create a formula to calculate the cost of ordering several boxes of plastic silverware.

  1. Select the cell that will contain the formula. In our example, we'll select cell D4.
    Selecting cells
  2. Type the equals sign (=).
  3. Select the cell you want to reference first in the formula: cell B4 in our example. The cell address will appear in the formula.
    Selecting the first cell to reference in the formula
  4. Type the mathematical operator you want to use. In our example, we'll type the multiplication sign (*).
  5. Select the cell you want to reference second in the formula: cell C4 in our example. The cell address will appear in the formula.
    Selecting the second cell to reference in the formula
  6. Press Enter on your keyboard. The formula will be calculated, and the value will be displayed in the cell.
    Press enter to complete the formula and display the result

Copying formulas with the fill handle

Formulas can also be copied to adjacent cells with the fill handle, which can save a lot of time and effort if you need to perform the same calculation multiple times in a worksheet. The fill handle is the small square at the bottom-right corner of the selected cell(s).

  1. Select the cell containing the formula you want to copy. Click and drag the fill handle over the cells you want to fill.
    Drag the fill handle
  2. After you release the mouse, the formula will be copied to the selected cells.
    The formula is copied into the selected cells.


To edit a formula:

Sometimes you may want to modify an existing formula. In the example below, we've entered an incorrect cell address in our formula, so we'll need to correct it.

  1. Select the cell containing the formula you want to edit. In our example, we'll select cell D12.
    Selecting cells
  2. Click the formula bar to edit the formula. You can also double-click the cell to view and edit the formula directly within the cell.
    Clicking the formula bar to edit the formula
  3. A border will appear around any referenced cells. In our example, we'll change the first part of the formula to reference cell D10 instead of cell D9.
    Editing the formula
  4. When you're finished, press Enter on your keyboard or select the Enter command in the formula bar.
    Press enter to finish editing
  5. The formula will be updated, and the new value will be displayed in the cell.
    The new formula displays its result

If you change your mind, you can press the Esc key on your keyboard or click the Cancel command in the formula bar to avoid accidentally making changes to your formula.

Cancel an edit to a formula

To show all of the formulas in a spreadsheet, you can hold the Ctrl key and press ` (grave accent). The grave accent key is usually located in the top-left corner of the keyboard. You can press Ctrl+` again to switch back to the normal view.