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Excel For Noobs Tutorial: Worksheet Functions and Formulas
If you were to simply use operators for your Excel formulas, you would be limited to what you could do. Luckily Excel has worksheet functions that perform calculations that would be very difficult if not impossible to perform. Worksheet functions greatly simplify calculations for you allowing you to perform more powerful formulas in an efficient manner. Below is an example of a formula which uses operators and then we perform the same formula using a function.
Here in cell P1 we added up all the values in cells A1 through O1. This we very time consuming as we had to manually click on each cell and enter the addition (+) operator. This would have been much easier if we just used the sum formula as shown below.
Here in cell P1 we used the sum formula which is =SUM(A1:O1). This was much more efficient than manually using the operators as we did previously.
Below is an example of us calculating the average of the values entered into cells A1 through I1 using the operators and not the function.
If you look at the example below we performed the same calculation except we used the Average formula by entering =AVERAGE(A1:I1) in cell J1. This is a much cleaner, easier and error free way of performing the same calculation.
Excel also offers functions that can eliminate manual editing that would otherwise take hours. An example of this is the PROPER function. The PROPER function converts content such as names and titles to their “proper” case structure. See the example below.
There are also functions that allow you to perform calculations that would not be available using only the operators. An example of this is the MAX function. The MAX function detects the largest value in a range of cells.
Another type of formula that Excel offers is the IF Function which is a decision making formula. The IF Function basically says "If "this" happens then "this" is the result and if "that" happens then "that" is the result." An example of the IF Function is shown below.
Excel Function Arguments
One thing that all Excel worksheet functions have in common is that they use parenthesis. The information that is listed inside the parenthesis is known as the list of arguments. Different functions use different types of arguments. The types of arguments Excel functions use are
 No Argument
 A fixed set of arguments
 An indefinite number of arguments
 A single argument
 Optional Arguments
An example of a function that doesn’t use an argument is the TODAY function. The TODAY function still requires a set parenthesis, but you simply don’t enter any information inside the parenthesis. If you were to enter the TODAY function into a cell you would do by entering =TODAY() and the result would be today’s date.
A function that uses a fixed set of arguments would be the Quotient argument. When you enter the Quotient formula into a cell then open the parenthesis, Excel will display a small information box describing how to enter your argument into the parenthesis. For the Quotient formula Excel requires a fixed set of two arguments, the numerator and the denominator. See the image below.
An example of a formula the uses and indefinite number of arguments would be the PRODUCT formula. The PRODUCT formula finds the “product” or all the arguments by multiplying them together. You can enter as many arguments as you want but you just need to make sure that each argument is separated by a comma.
An example of the product formula is shown below.
In my example of the Product formula I entered nine arguments but I could have entered as many as I want as implied by the information box where is says “…[Number8], [Number9], [Number10], …)”
An example of a formula the uses and indefinite number of arguments would be the PRODUCT formula. The PRODUCT formula finds the “product” or all the arguments by multiplying them together. You can enter as many arguments as you want but you just need to make sure that each argument is separated by a comma.
An example of the product formula is shown below.
In my example of the Product formula I entered nine arguments but I could have entered as many as I want as implied by the information box where is says “…[Number8], [Number9], [Number10], …)”
The Absolute function is an example of a single argument function. In Excel the Absolute function is abbreviated with ABS, so you would enter =ABS into a cell and then in the parenthesis you would enter your argument which is a single number or a cell which contains a number. If we enter =ABS(247) in a cell, the function will calculate and return the absolute value of 247 which is 247. See the example below.
Types of Excel Arguments
Arguments in Excel can consist of cell references, literal values, literal text strings, expressions, or other functions.
 Cell reference: =PRODUCT(A1:A15)
 Literal value: =ABS(247)
 Literal text string: =PROPER("this is the title of a book")
 Expression: =SQRT(15+10)
 Other functions: =SQRT(PRODUCT(A1:A5))
Find the next tutorial in the links below.

