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Excel For Noobs Tutorial: The Insert Function and Function Arguments Dialog Boxes
The Insert Function Dialog Box
The most efficient way to locate the Insert Function Dialog Box is probably by clicking the Insert Function button (fx) button located directly to the left of the address bar.
You will notice that the Insert Function Dialog Box has three fields.
To find and insert a function into a cell simply choose your category and then search the list of functions for the one you need.
TIP: When you select function from the function list, Excel provides a description of the function directly under the Function List.
Once you have located the function you need, simply select the function and click OK and the Function Arguments dialog box will appear.
- The Search for a Function text box: Here you can enter a description of the function you are looking for and Excel will list the functions in most relevant order.
- The Select a Function Category list: Here you can narrow your search for a function down into particular function categories.
- The Select a Function list: This is a list of function which is determined by the function category.
The Function Arguments Dialog Box
The Function Arguments Dialog Box varies depending on the function you are inserting. Remember that there are different types of function arguments, therefore the Function Arguments Dialog Box adapts to the function you are inserting. For example, if you insert the SUM function your arguments would be an indeterminate number of arguments.
The Function Argument Box for the SUM function initially appears with two text boxes for you to enter your arguments, Number1 and Number2. However, since the SUM function can consist of an infinite number of arguments, more text boxes will appear once you enter arguments into the last text box. For example, if we were to click in the text box for argument Number2, a text box for argument Number3 would appear and so onů
In each argument box you can enter a literal number like 5, a cell address such as D7 a range of cells such as D10:D13, a calculation consisting of operators, literal values and/or cell references such as 5+D11, another function such as PRODUCT(D13,D15), or you can enter a combination of all as a single argument.
There are other functions that only require a single argument. An example of this would be the SQRT function which finds the square root of a number. The Function Dialog Box for this function only has a single argument titled Number. This is because you are only able to find the square root of a number. In the argument box you can enter a literal number, a cell reference that contains a numeric value, a calculation using operators, literal number and/or cell references, or other functions. For the SQRT function you cannot simply enter a range of cells. If you want to find the square root of a range of cells you will need to enter the range of cells as a function so Excel know how you would like to calculate that range of cells. By simply entering a range of cells you are not telling Excel how you would like that range of cells to be calculated.
Other functions require a fixed number of arguments, a good example would be the IF function. The IF requires three arguments, no less and no more. The three arguments are the logical test, the value if true and the value if false. If you leave an argument blank, Excel will treat it as a 0. In the Logical_test argument box you can only refer to a cell or enter a numeric value. For value_if_true and value_if_false you can enter a numeric value, refer to a cell, enter a formula, enter a function or enter text enclose in quotations. You cannot enter a range of cells.
With the examples I have provided, you should be pretty familiar with the Functions Dialog Box. Remember that it is important to know the functions you are using and to experiment and practice to gain a better understanding.
Find the next tutorial in the links below.