Excel Tutorial: How To Build Formula In Excel


If you are new to Excel, mastering the art of building formulas is essential. Excel formulas are mathematical expressions that help you perform calculations and analyze data with ease. Whether you are a student, a professional, or a business owner, understanding how to build formulas in Excel can greatly enhance your productivity and efficiency. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the basics of building formulas in Excel and why it is important to learn this skill.

Key Takeaways

  • Mastering the art of building formulas in Excel is essential for students, professionals, and business owners to enhance productivity and efficiency.
  • Excel formulas are mathematical expressions that help perform calculations and analyze data with ease.
  • Understanding basic formulas, working with functions, using logical functions, referencing cells and ranges, and error checking are all important aspects of building formulas in Excel.
  • Absolute vs. relative cell referencing and using tools for error checking and troubleshooting are important skills to learn when building formulas in Excel.
  • Further learning resources are available to continue mastering Excel formulas, and it is important to continually improve and expand one's skillset in this area.

Understanding Basic Formulas

Formulas are the foundation of Excel and allow users to perform calculations and manipulate data. Understanding basic formulas is essential for mastering Excel.

A. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division

Basic arithmetic operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are fundamental to building formulas in Excel.

  • Addition: Use the plus sign (+) to add numbers together, for example: =A1+B1
  • Subtraction: Use the minus sign (-) to subtract numbers, for example: =A1-B1
  • Multiplication: Use the asterisk (*) to multiply, for example: =A1*B1
  • Division: Use the forward slash (/) to divide, for example: =A1/B1

B. Using cell references in basic formulas

Cell references allow users to use the value of another cell in a formula. This is a powerful feature that makes it easy to update data and perform calculations.

  • Relative references: When a formula is copied to another cell, the cell references adjust based on their new location.
  • Absolute references: Use the dollar sign ($) to keep a cell reference constant when copying a formula to another cell.
  • Mixed references: Combine relative and absolute references to achieve the desired behavior in formulas.

Working with Functions

Excel provides a range of functions that allow users to perform various calculations on their data. Understanding how to work with functions is an essential skill for anyone using Excel for data analysis and reporting.

A. Common functions in Excel (SUM, AVERAGE, MAX, MIN)

Excel offers a variety of functions that are commonly used to perform calculations. Some of the most frequently used functions include:

  • SUM: This function is used to add up a range of cells.
  • AVERAGE: This function calculates the average of a range of cells.
  • MAX: The MAX function returns the highest value in a range of cells.
  • MIN: Conversely, the MIN function returns the lowest value in a range of cells.

B. How to input functions into cells

Inputting functions into cells is a straightforward process in Excel. To do so, follow these steps:

  • Select the cell where you want the result to appear
  • Begin with the equal sign (=)
  • Type the name of the function you want to use (e.g. SUM, AVERAGE, MAX, MIN)
  • Open parenthesis
  • Select the range of cells you want to include in the calculation
  • Close parenthesis
  • Press Enter

Using Logical Functions

Logical functions in Excel allow you to perform different actions based on specific conditions. The IF, AND, and OR functions are commonly used in building formulas in Excel.

A. IF, AND, OR functions

  • IF function: The IF function allows you to test a condition and return one value if the condition is met, and another value if the condition is not met. The syntax for the IF function is =IF(logical_test, value_if_true, value_if_false).
  • AND function: The AND function allows you to test multiple conditions and returns TRUE if all conditions are met, and FALSE if any condition is not met. The syntax for the AND function is =AND(logical1, [logical2][logical2], ...).

B. Examples of using logical functions in Excel formulas

Here are some examples of using logical functions in Excel:

  • Using the IF function to assign a letter grade based on a numerical score. For example, =IF(A2>=90, "A", IF(A2>=80, "B", IF(A2>=70, "C", IF(A2>=60, "D", "F"))))
  • Using the AND function to check if two conditions are met. For example, =IF(AND(A2>10, B2="Yes"), "Both conditions met", "Conditions not met")
  • Using the OR function to check if at least one of the conditions is met. For example, =IF(OR(A2="Red", A2="Blue", A2="Green"), "Primary color", "Not a primary color")

Referencing Cells and Ranges

When building formulas in Excel, referencing cells and ranges is a crucial aspect to ensure accurate calculations and data manipulation. Understanding absolute vs. relative cell referencing and how to reference cells and ranges in formulas can significantly enhance your proficiency in using Excel.

A. Absolute vs. relative cell referencing

Understanding the difference between absolute and relative cell referencing is fundamental to building formulas in Excel. Absolute cell referencing locks the cell reference, making it constant when copied to other cells, denoted by the use of dollar signs ($). On the other hand, relative cell referencing changes the cell reference relative to the position of the formula when copied to other cells. This distinction is crucial in ensuring the accuracy and consistency of formulas across different cells in a worksheet.

B. How to reference cells and ranges in formulas

Referencing cells and ranges in formulas is a straightforward process in Excel. By using cell references, such as A1 or B2, or range references, such as A1:B5, you can easily incorporate the desired data into your formulas. Simply input the cell or range reference directly into the formula, or click on the cell or range while editing the formula to automatically insert the reference. This allows you to dynamically incorporate data from different cells and ranges into your calculations and analyses.

Error Checking and Troubleshooting

When working with formulas in Excel, it is important to be aware of common errors and how to troubleshoot them. Understanding these errors and utilizing the available tools can help ensure the accuracy of your data and calculations.

A. Understanding common formula errors
  • 1. #DIV/0! error

    This error occurs when a formula attempts to divide a number by zero. To resolve this error, you can use the IFERROR function to display a custom message or value when the error occurs.

  • 2. #VALUE! error

    This error occurs when a formula contains invalid data types or operands. Check the inputs to the formula and ensure they are in the correct format.

  • 3. #REF! error

    This error occurs when a cell reference used in a formula is not valid, typically due to deleting or moving cells that the formula depends on. Use the trace precedents tool to identify the source of the error.

  • 4. #NAME? error

    This error occurs when Excel does not recognize text within a formula. Ensure that any text is enclosed in quotation marks.

  • 5. #NUM! error

    This error occurs when a formula contains invalid numeric values, such as using a mathematical operation that is not valid. Double-check the calculations within the formula.

B. Using tools such as trace precedents and evaluate formula
  • 1. Trace Precedents

    The Trace Precedents tool allows you to visually track the cells that contribute to a formula's result. This can be helpful in identifying any potential errors or discrepancies in the formula.

  • 2. Evaluate Formula

    The Evaluate Formula tool allows you to step through a formula and see the intermediate results at each stage of the calculation. This can help in identifying where the formula is not producing the expected result.


Mastering Excel formulas is essential for anyone looking to efficiently analyze and manipulate data in their professional or personal lives. By understanding how to build formulas in Excel, you can save time, automate tasks, and make informed decisions based on accurate data. Whether you are a beginner or looking to expand your knowledge, there are plenty of resources available for further learning. Online tutorials, courses, and Excel forums can provide valuable insights and support as you continue to build your skills in Excel.

Resources for further learning

  • Microsoft Excel official website - offers tutorials and documentation
  • Online learning platforms such as Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning
  • Excel forums and communities for asking questions and seeking advice from experts

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