Excel Tutorial: How To Calculation In Excel


Excel is a powerful tool for organizing and analyzing data, and one of its key features is the ability to perform calculations on that data. Whether you're analyzing sales figures, creating a budget, or tracking expenses, being able to perform calculations in Excel is essential. In this Excel tutorial, we'll cover the basics of how to perform calculations in Excel, including basic arithmetic, formulas, and functions.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding basic Excel formulas is essential for performing calculations in Excel.
  • Working with cell references, including relative, absolute, and mixed references, is crucial for accurate calculations.
  • Advanced functions such as IF, VLOOKUP, SUMIF, COUNTIF, and nested functions can help to perform complex calculations in Excel.
  • Using built-in Excel tools like Goal Seek, Data Tables, and Scenario Manager can streamline the calculation process.
  • Implementing tips for efficient calculations, such as using named ranges and keyboard shortcuts, can improve productivity in Excel.

Understanding basic Excel formulas

Excel is a powerful tool for performing calculations and data analysis. Understanding how to use basic formulas is essential for anyone working with Excel. Here, we will cover some of the most commonly used formulas and arithmetic operators in Excel.

A. Sum, Average, Min, Max

  • SUM: The SUM function is used to add up a range of cells. For example, =SUM(A1:A10) will add the values in cells A1 through A10.
  • AVERAGE: The AVERAGE function calculates the average of a range of cells. For example, =AVERAGE(B1:B5) will give you the average of the values in cells B1 through B5.
  • MIN: The MIN function returns the smallest number in a range. For example, =MIN(C1:C8) will give you the smallest value in cells C1 through C8.
  • MAX: The MAX function returns the largest number in a range. For example, =MAX(D1:D6) will give you the largest value in cells D1 through D6.

B. Using basic arithmetic operators (+, -, *, /)

  • Addition (+): The plus sign is used for addition in Excel. For example, =A1+B1 will add the values in cells A1 and B1.
  • Subtraction (-): The minus sign is used for subtraction. For example, =C1-D1 will subtract the value of cell D1 from the value of cell C1.
  • Multiplication (*): The asterisk symbol is used for multiplication. For example, =E1*F1 will multiply the values in cells E1 and F1.
  • Division (/): The forward slash is used for division. For example, =G1/H1 will divide the value in cell G1 by the value in cell H1.

Working with cell references

When working with calculations in Excel, it's important to understand how cell references work. By using cell references, you can create formulas that automatically update when you change the data in your worksheet. There are three types of cell references to be aware of: relative, absolute, and mixed references.

A. Relative references

Relative references are the most commonly used type of cell reference in Excel. When you create a formula using relative references, Excel will adjust the reference based on the position of the formula. For example, if you have a formula in cell C1 that references cell A1, when you copy the formula to cell C2, it will automatically update to reference cell A2.

B. Absolute references

Absolute references, denoted by the use of dollar signs ($), do not change when copied or moved. This means that if you have a formula in cell C1 that references cell $A$1, when you copy the formula to cell C2, it will still reference cell $A$1. Absolute references are useful when you want a reference to remain constant, such as when working with constants or fixed values.

C. Mixed references

Mixed references are a combination of relative and absolute references. You can have either an absolute column and relative row reference (e.g. $A1), or a relative column and absolute row reference (e.g. A$1). When copied or moved, the relative or absolute aspect of the reference will adjust accordingly. Mixed references are especially useful when working with data tables or when you need to lock only a part of the reference.

Advanced functions for complex calculations

When it comes to performing complex calculations in Excel, there are several advanced functions that can help you streamline your workflow and save time. In this tutorial, we will explore some of the most useful functions for complex calculations.

IF function

The IF function in Excel allows you to perform a logical test and return one value if the test is true, and another value if the test is false. This can be extremely useful for creating dynamic spreadsheets that respond to changing conditions.

VLOOKUP function

The VLOOKUP function is a powerful tool for looking up and retrieving data from a table. It allows you to search for a value in the left-most column of a table and return a value in the same row from a specified column.

SUMIF and COUNTIF functions

The SUMIF and COUNTIF functions are useful for adding or counting cells that meet a specified condition. For example, you can use the SUMIF function to sum the values in a range that meet certain criteria, or the COUNTIF function to count the number of cells in a range that meet a specific condition.

Nested functions

In Excel, you can nest one function inside another to create more complex calculations. This can be particularly useful when you need to perform multiple calculations within a single formula. By nesting functions, you can create sophisticated and dynamic spreadsheets that can handle a wide range of scenarios.

Using built-in Excel tools for calculations

Excel offers a variety of built-in tools that can help you perform complex calculations quickly and accurately. Let’s take a look at three powerful tools for calculations in Excel: Goal Seek, Data Tables, and Scenario Manager.

A. Goal Seek

Goal Seek is a handy tool that allows you to find the input value needed to achieve a specific goal. This can be particularly useful when you have a target outcome in mind and want to determine the input required to reach that outcome.

- How to use Goal Seek:

  • Select the cell containing the formula you want to calculate.
  • Go to the Data tab, click on What-If Analysis, and then select Goal Seek.
  • Enter the target value you want to achieve, the cell containing the input value you want to change, and the cell that contains the formula you want to calculate.
  • Click OK to let Excel determine the input value needed to reach the specified goal.

B. Data Tables

Data Tables are a powerful way to perform multiple calculations at once by varying one or two input values. This can be useful for performing sensitivity analysis or creating different scenarios based on changing input variables.

- How to use Data Tables:

  • Create a table with the input values and formulas you want to calculate.
  • Select the range of cells you want to use as the input values.
  • Go to the Data tab, click on What-If Analysis, and then select Data Table.
  • Specify the input cell references and the row or column input cell, and Excel will calculate and display the results in the table.

C. Scenario Manager

Scenario Manager allows you to create and compare different scenarios based on changing input values. This can be useful for evaluating the impact of different variables on a given outcome.

- How to use Scenario Manager:

  • Go to the Data tab and click on What-If Analysis.
  • Select Scenario Manager and then click on Add to create a new scenario.
  • Enter a name for the scenario and specify the changing cells and values for that scenario.
  • Once you have created multiple scenarios, you can compare and switch between them to see the impact on your calculations.

Tips for efficient calculations in Excel

Excel is a powerful tool for performing calculations, and there are several techniques that can help you maximize its efficiency. Here are some tips for making your calculations in Excel faster and more accurate.

A. Using named ranges
  • Create named ranges for frequently used cells or ranges.

  • By assigning a name to a cell or range of cells, you can easily refer to it in formulas without having to remember specific cell references. This can make your formulas more readable and easier to maintain.

  • Use named ranges in formulas.

  • When you use named ranges in your formulas, it makes it easier to understand and update the formulas. It also helps to minimize errors and improves the efficiency of your calculations.

B. Utilizing shortcuts and keyboard commands
  • Learn and use keyboard shortcuts for common tasks.

  • Using keyboard shortcuts can significantly speed up your workflow and make your calculations more efficient. For example, using shortcuts for copying and pasting, inserting rows or columns, and navigating between cells can save you a lot of time.

  • Use formula auto-fill feature.

  • When you start typing a formula in a cell, Excel can suggest and auto-complete the formula based on the context. This can help you avoid typing errors and speed up the process of entering formulas.

C. Organizing data for easier calculations
  • Use consistent and logical data organization.

  • By organizing your data in a consistent and logical manner, you can make it easier to perform calculations and analysis. For example, using consistent column and row headers, and grouping related data together can simplify your calculations.

  • Use filters and sorting to analyze data.

  • Excel provides powerful features for filtering and sorting data, which can help you quickly analyze and calculate specific subsets of your data. By using these features, you can avoid manual data manipulation and make your calculations more efficient.


Recap: Calculations are a crucial aspect of Excel, allowing users to perform complex operations and analyze data effectively. Whether it's simple arithmetic or complex financial modeling, mastering calculations in Excel is essential for professionals in various industries.

Encouragement: As you continue to explore the world of Excel formulas and functions, remember that practice makes perfect. Keep challenging yourself with new calculations and seek out opportunities to expand your skills. The more you familiarize yourself with Excel's capabilities, the more efficient and effective you'll become in your work.

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