Functions expand the scope of Excel and allow us to perform tasks which formulas alone cannot do.
There are two separate methods for entering functions. In one method we use an interface (the Insert Function tool) and in the other we simply type the function directly into a cell.
In the following example we’re using a spreadsheet called ‘Using Functions’ which you can download here.
Let’s take a look at the Insert Function tool first:
Step 1: click in the cell where you want the function to be placed, the click the Insert Function tool button (fx)
Step 2: Choose a function from the recent list (entitled Select a Function), or use the search box at the top of the window.
Step 3: Now click the OK button – the Insert Function window will close and the Function Arguments window will open
Step 4: Select the range of cells you want to apply the function too and then press OK – and that’s it!
These are the correct results if you want to check your work:
SUM: adds cell ranges
MIN: returns the smallest value in a range
MAX: returns the largest value
AVERAGE: average value across the range
COUNT: returns the number of values in the range (numbers)
COUNTA: counts both values and text (if present)
If you have multiple ranges of cells, you can make use of the additional argument fields (Number 2, Number 3 etc). Simply click in the Number 2 field and select an additional cell range. You will now be presented with the Number 3 field in case you have further data to add. This will happen automatically and actually allows us to add up to 255 separate cell ranges!
Now let’s take a look at the second method:
Step 1: Click in the cell where you want to place the function, then press the = key.
Step 2: Now start typing the name of the function – you will be presented with a menu which provides a simple shortcut to save typing the whole name (note you can ignore this and just manually type the whole function)
Step 3: Next select the range of cells you wish to apply the function to – press Enter and you will see the result! Note that you don’t need to type the closing bracket, Excel will do this automatically with a single function.
To add additional arguments using the method, just type a comma to separate each. Again, we can add up to 255 additional cell ranges.
And that’s all there is to it! I hope this short tutorial has shown you how easy functions can be in Excel. There are around 400 different functions available and they all follow these same basic principles.
If you’ve found this useful, please share with your colleagues and visit us again soon for more easy Excel tutorials!