How do you use Excel to perform basic calculations?
Writting a formula in Excel is very simple but you must respect some rules to avoid mistakes
- Start your formula with the = symbol
In Excel, any formula or basic calculation starts with the = sign
- Respect the order of operations
Each mathematical operator doesn't have the same weight in an operation. In Excel, as in other programs, this order of operations must be respected
- Use the cell references
To simplify the writting of your formulas, you can select a cell to use its content.
The = sign
In Excel, all the calculations or formulas start with the = sign. It's COMPULSORY !!!
To add values in Excel, you just have to write in any cell an operation like this one.
In the cell, you see the result and in the formula bar. Take care when you delete the contain of a cell, you could delete a formula and not a value.
In the same way, to subtract values, you simply write a formula like this
Multiplication and division
Here again, to make a multiplication or division, you just have to write the operation in a cell and you start with the sign =
Order of operations
In mathematics, all the operators don't have the same "power". That's what is called the order of operations. Multiplication and division have a stronger rank than addition and subtraction.
The order of operations is
- The parenthesis
- Multiplication and division
- Addition and subtraction
Explanation of a calculation with add and multiplication
What is the result of this calculation 2+3*4? 20 is wrong!
In fact, in Excel (and all the software) the multiplication is evaluated before the add.
- So first it's 3*4=12
- And then, 2+12=14
And this is the result returns in the cell 😃
If you want to calculate the addition before the multiplication it's possible. For that, you must write the addition inside parentheses
This point is very important to calculate VAT for instance.
Use reference in your formula
As you can see, in the previous example, we have used the reference of the cells to write our formula. These are the steps you must follow
- Start with the = symbol
- Select the cell B4 with your mouse
- Write the symbols /(1+
- Select the cell C1
- Press F4 to add the dollars.
- Finish by closing the parenthesis
- Exercise for beginners: Use the cells in your calculation
- Exercise for beginners: functions SUM, MIN, MAX Excel
- Exercise for beginners: Dollars in Excel Formula
- The SUM function – All Tricks
I'm sure you have seen this game in your Facebook timeline. But when you look at the answers in the comments, ... so many people don't respect the order of operations.
The solution is the following
- Row 1: 3 bottles of beer = 30.
- A bottle of beer it's 10 =30/3 (ok for every one? 😉)
- Row 2: 1 beer bottle + 2 hamburgers = 20
- We know that a beer bottle = 10
- So 2 hamburgers = 10 (20-10)
- 1 hamburger it's 5 =10/2
- Row 3: (here is the trick) 1 hamburger + 4 pints = 13
- 1 hamburger = 5
- Here we have 2 groups of 2 pints. So there is 4 pints
- So, 13-5 (the hamburger) = 8. And 8/4=2.
- The pint = 2
- Row 4: 1 hamburger + 1 pint * 1 beer bottle = ?
- So, you must respect the prior of the mathematical symbols
- 1 pint * 1 beer bottle => 2*10 = 20
- 20 + 1 hamburger => 20+5 = 25 😉