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Microsoft Excel 2003/2004

Calculating with Functions

To create a basic worksheet, some of the core tasks involve entering formulas and functions. Both formulas and functions are instructions for Excel to do calculations for you by referring to values in the worksheet or within the formula.

return to topWorking with Functions

There are multiple ways you can create a function. You can insert functions manually (by typing them), or you can use the Insert Function dialog box. The Insert Function dialog box eliminates the possibility of a typing error, so it is the recommended method. For more information on formulas, refer to Performing Calculations in Your Workbook.

Writing Functions with the Insert Function Dialog Box

Determining what functions are available, what function you should be using, and what you need to include in the function is easier with the Insert Function dialog box. The Insert Function dialog box will display a listing of all functions or categories of functions available with Excel. As you select a function (as in the following graphic), a sample of the function appears at the bottom of the dialog box. As you make your selection, the Insert Function dialog box will request certain types of information. You simply select the cells where that information is located.

Windows:

  1. Place the cell pointer on the cell where the formula should be added

  2. From the Insert menu, select Function…
    The Insert Function dialog box appears.
    Insert Function dialog box

  3. From the Or select a category pull-down list, select the appropriate function category or All

  4. From the Select a function scroll box, select the desired function
    HINT: A description of the selected function appears beneath the Select a function scroll box.

  5. Click OK
    The Function Arguments dialog box appears.
    Function Arguments dialog box

  6. In the text boxes, type the data to be in the function
    HINTS:
    To hide the dialog box so you can select cell ranges with the mouse rather than type them, click COLLAPSE DIALOGCollapse Dialog button.
    To restore the dialog box, click RESTORE DIALOGRestore Dialog button.

  7. Click OK

Macintosh:

  1. Place the cell pointer on the cell where the formula should be added

  2. From the Insert menu, select Function…
    The Paste Function dialog box appears.
    Paste Function dialog box

  3. From the Function category scroll box, select the appropriate function category or All

  4. From the Function name scroll box, select the desired function
    HINT: A description of the selected function appears beneath the Function category scroll box .

  5. Click OK
    The Function Arguments dialog box appears.
    Function Arguments dialog box

  6. In the text boxes, type the data to be in the function
    HINTS:
    To hide the dialog box so you can select cell ranges with the mouse rather than type them, click COLLAPSE DIALOGCollapse Dialog button.
    To restore the dialog box, click EXPAND DIALOGRestore Dialog button.

  7. Click OK

About the Function Arguments Dialog Box

The Function Arguments dialog box helps you to enter worksheet functions. As you type the function, the Function Arguments dialog box displays the name of the function, the function arguments, a description of the function and its arguments, and the result of the function. Once you have entered a function, you can further edit it using the Function Arguments dialog box.

To access the Function Arguments dialog box:

  1. Select a cell containing a function

  2. On the Formula bar, click INSERT FUNCTIONInsert Function button
    The Function Arguments dialog box appears.

return to topWriting Formulas and Functions with the Point Method

Formulas based on cell references can be "written" by pointing to the cells rather than typing the cell entries. This "point" method can help reduce the chance of error in the formulas and sometimes may make more sense. The point method may not work as well when the cells in question are located in different areas of the worksheet, but the method can be used then as well.

The key to the point method is to point to click the cells to be included and to type the operators where appropriate.

The following examples provide step-by-step instructions for a simple addition of two cells and for adding a range of cells.

Adding Cells Together

  1. Place the insertion point in the cell where the results should be displayed

  2. To start the function, press [=]

  3. Point and click the first cell to be added

  4. Press [+]

  5. Point and click the next cell to be added

  6. Repeat steps 4-5 as necessary

  7. Press [Enter] or [return]

Adding a Range of Cells with the SUM Function: Option 1

  1. Place the insertion point in the cell where the results should be displayed

  2. To start the function, press [=]

  3. Type SUM(

  4. Point and click the first cell in the range to be added

  5. Press [:]

  6. Point and click the last cell to be added

  7. Type )

  8. Press [Enter] or [return]

Adding a Range of Cells with the SUM Function: Option 2

  1. Place the cell pointer in the cell where the results should be displayed

  2. To start the function, press [=]

  3. Type SUM(

  4. Click and drag the mouse to select the range of cells to be added

  5. Type )

  6. Press [Enter] or [return]

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