 Tweet # Excel For Noobs Tutorial: How to Use and Combine Formulas in Excel

## Excel Formulas Intro

Formulas are one of the main features that make spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel so powerful. With the use of formulas you can change necessary data in multiple cells all at the same time by simply making cells dependent on a formula which is dependent on data (assumptions) entered into other cells. That may have been a confusing way to word it, but with practice you will understand what I was trying to say. In this tutorial we will cover the most basic Excel formulas which will be necessary to know for our more advanced Excel tutorials.

## Entering Formulas into Excel For Newbies

To enter a formula into a cell you will first have to use =. When = is the first bit of data entered into Excel, Excel immediately formats the cell as a formula, therefore Excel will try to solve anything you enter into that cell and if you enter data that is not possible for Excel to solve you will get an error. For example, if you were to enter =B, your result would be #NAME? which is a name error. However if you were to enter =5+5 your result would be 10. The point is that if the first bit of data entered into a cell is = then you need to enter a defined formula, unless of course you reformat the cell to a text format.

There are multiple ways to perform addition in Excel. Instead of explaining it with text alone, we will provide an example along with a description.

### Manually

Formulas almost always refer to other cells for their data. You can see in the example below we added cells B4:E4 by simply entering =B4+C4+D4+E4 into the cell where we want our result to show. In the image below we are showing the formula. If we were to hit Enter on our keyboard the cell would display our result of 44. If we change the numbers in any of the cells our formulas refer to, our result will change since they are dependent on those cells. ### The SUM Formula

In Excel formulas are assigned a prefix. For example, if you enter =SUM() Excel will find the sum of all the cells entered in the parenthesis. Every Cell inside the parenthesis will need to be separated by a comma. If all the cells inside the parenthesis are addressed right next to each other then they can be selected together. For example, if you wanted to find the sum of cells B  E in row 4 you could enter =sum(B4:E4) or you could enter =sum(B4,C4,D4,E4) and you would get the same result. The easiest way to enter the cells used in the sum formula is to select them with your mouse.

NOTE: When using the SUM formula you could include a cell that does not have a numeric value and the formula will simply find the sum of all cells which contain numeric values and formulas and will ignore the cells that hold text data. ### AutoSum

AutoSum is similar to the Sum formula except that it automatically detects numeric values and formulas that are within the same row or column and automatically finds the sum. AutoSum can be found on the ribbon under the Formula tab. To use AutoSum all you have to do is Activate the Cell, click AutoSum, and press Enter.

Note: If you have already used a formula in the row or column, AutoSum will only select the cells that follow the formula. However if there are not any cells that contain data following the cell with the formula, AutoSum will still select all the previous cells in the row or column.

## Subtraction

Subtraction is fairly simple. The formula to enter into the cell is as follows =number1-number2-number3-. See the example in the image below. You can also perform subtraction in combination with the Sum formula. For example, if you wanted to find out how much money you have left over at the end of every month, you would subtract the sum of your liabilities from the sum of you income. You can see in the example below we have subtracted the sum of cells D11 & E11 from the sum of cells B11 & C11. ## Multiplication

### Manual

The multiplication sign in Excel is the asterisk *. If you were to enter into a cell =5*5, Excel would multiply 5 by 5 and show a result of 25 after you pressed Enter. See the example in the image below. ### Product Formula

You can also use the Product formula. To perform the PRODUCT formula you would enter =PRODUCT() and inside the parenthesis you would select all the cells you would like to find the product of. See our example below. You can also combine multiplication with addition and subtraction. You would do this by combining the PRODUCT formula with the SUM formula or by combining the PRODUCT formula with subtraction. This would come in handy when making Pro Forma statements if you know what those are. In the image below you can see the we combined the SUM formula with the PRODUCT formula. Remember the SUM formula is =SUM(Number1,Number2,) In the example below we made Number1 the Product of cells B17 & C17 and we made Number 2 the product of cells D17 & E17. ### Multiplication with Subtraction

Just like you used subtraction with the SUM formula, you can also use subtraction with the PRODUCT formula. In the example below we subtracted the product of cells D18 & E18 from the product of cells B18 & C18. ### Manual

You can divide manually but remember that the numbers will be divided in order from left to right. For example, number1 will be divided by number2 divided by number3 etc. See the example below. ### Quotient Formula

You can also use the quotient formula but there are only two components to this formula. However, these components can consists of other formulas. With the quotient formula the first number in the parenthesis will be the numerator and the second number will be the denominator. The formula is QUOTIENT(Numerator, Denominator) . You can see below that we used the Quotient formula to divided cell E23 by cell D23. ### Quotient Formula with Sum Formula

Just as we combined the SUM formula with the PRODUCT formula, we can do the same with the SUM formula and the QUOTIENT formula. See the example below. ### Quotient Formula with Subtraction

Just like we combined the SUM formula and the PRODUCT formula with subtraction, we can do the same with the QUOTIENT formula. See the example below. ## Parenthesis & Formulas

As you should know by now, many different formulas can be combined in Excel. In fact, if formulas couldn't be combined Excel wouldnt be the powerful tool that it is. However, if you dont use parenthesis to separate different parts of a formula you could make some major mistakes which would result in your worksheet being useless.

You already know the order of operation so this should be pretty easy to understand but it can get confusing. First look at the image below and get familiar with the numbers in each cells. Suppose you wanted to multiply cells B29 & C29 and then wanted to divide the product of B29 & C29 by cell D29. Now suppose you wanted to take the result of that calculation and multiply it by the sum of E29 & F29. Now lets say we wanted to divide our result from what we have done so far by cell G2. If we wanted to perform this in Excel we would most definitely have to use parenthesis. The point is that you have to treat each calculation separately and you do this by using parenthesis. Sometimes there are separate calculations within a larger calculation as there are in this example. If you do this correctly, your answer will be 250. Carefully study what we did in the image below and practice it on your own. ## Conclusion

In this tutorial we have covered how to use the most basic Excel formulas, different ways of performing each formula, combinations of Excel formulas and how to use parenthesis with formulas. Although you can accomplish a lot with the formulas you have learned, there is still a lot more to Excel. Open your own Excel worksheet and start playing with these formulas on your own. The best way to learn Excel is by practice in combination with the tutorials offered by Excel For Noobs. Financial Dictionary
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