Use formulas and functions

Create formulas

Your browser does not support video. Install Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Flash Player, or Internet Explorer 9.

Try it!

Get started on how to create formulas and use built-in functions to perform calculations and solve problems.

Formula bar

  • When a formula is entered into a cell, it also appears in the Formula bar.
    Formula Bar

Create a formula that refers to values in other cells

  1. Select a cell.
    Select a cell

  2. Type the equal sign =.

    Note: Formulas in Excel always begin with the equal sign.

  3. Select a cell or type its address in the selected cell.
    Its address

  4. Enter an operator. For example, – for subtraction.

  5. Select the next cell, or type its address in the selected cell.

  6. Press Enter. The result of the calculation appears in the cell with the formula.

To see a formula

  1. Select a cell, and see the formula in the formula bar.
    See formula bar

Enter a formula that contains a built-in function

  1. Select an empty cell.

  2. Type an equal sign = and then type a function. For example, =SUM for getting the total sales.

  3. Type an opening parenthesis (.

  4. Select the range of cells, and then type a closing parenthesis).
    Range of cells

  5. Press Enter to get the result.

Relative references

  • A relative cell reference in a formula, such as B2:G2, is based on the relative position of the cell that contains the formula, such as H2. If the position of the cell that contains the formula changes, the reference is changed. If you copy or fill a formula across rows or down columns, the reference automatically adjusts. By default, new formulas use relative references. For example, if the formula in H2 is copied to H3, it automatically adjusts from =SUM (B2:G2) to =SUM (B3:G3).

Want more?

Overview of formulas in Excel for Windows

Switch between relative, absolute, and mixed references

Discover more courses like this at LinkedIn Learning

Expand your Office skills
Explore training
Get new features first
Join Office Insiders

Was this information helpful?

Thank you for your feedback!

Thank you for your feedback! It sounds like it might be helpful to connect you to one of our Office support agents.