Enter a formula in Excel 2016 for Mac

Formulas are equations that perform calculations on values in your sheet. All formulas begin with an equal sign (=). You can create a simple formula by using numbers and operators. For example, the formula =5+2*3, multiplies two numbers and then adds a number to the result.

You can use cell values in formulas, for example, =A1+A2 adds the values in cell A1 and cell A2. If you are working with long columns of data, you can use a range in the formula. For example, A1:A100 represents the first hundred numbers in column A. When you change the data in a cell referenced in a formula, Excel recalculates the results automatically.

You can also create a formula by using a function, a predefined formula that simplifies entering calculations. For example, use SUM to total a group of values, such as =SUM(A1:A100).

Enter a formula that refers to values in other cells

  1. In a sheet that contains columns of numbers, click the cell where you want the formula results to appear.

  2. Type an equal sign =

  3. Click the first cell that you want to include in your calculation.

    Example of using a cell reference in a formula

  4. Type an operator. An operator is the kind of calculation that the formula performs. For example, the * (asterisk) operator multiplies numbers. In this example, use the / (forward slash) operator to divide. At this point your formula should look like this:

    Example of using an operator in a formula

  5. Click the next cell that you want to include in your calculation. Now your formula should look like this:

    Example of using two cell references in a formula

  6. Press RETURN.

    The result of the calculation appears in the cell.

    Example of using cell references in a formula, showing the calculated result

    Tip: To quickly apply a formula to the next cells down in the column, double-click the fill handle   Fill handle on the first cell that contains the formula.

Enter a formula that contains a function

  1. In a sheet that contains a range of numbers, click the empty cell where you want the formula results to appear.

  2. Type an equal sign and a function, for example =MIN. MIN finds the smallest number in a range of cells.

  3. Type an opening parenthesis, select the range of cells that you want to include in the formula, and then type a closing parenthesis.

    Example showing use of the MIN function

  4. Press RETURN.

    In our example, the MIN function returns 11, the smallest number in cells A1 through C4.


When you enter a formula in a cell, the formula also appears in the formula bar.

Formula bar showing a formula

Use the shortcuts in the formula bar to help you create formulas:

  • Select Green checkmark on the formula bar to check your formula. If there are no errors, the cell will display the result of the formula. If there are errors, you'll see Symbol showing an error in a formula . Hover over it for an explanation of the problem, or select the drop-down for additional troubleshooting help.

  • Select Red X on the formula bar to revert to your previous formula.

  • Hover over an error symbol for an explanation of the error

  • To select a function, use the function list.

    Function list on the formula bar

    When you select a function, the Formula Builder opens, with additional information about the function.

    Formula builder

See Also

Show and print formulas

Copy a formula by dragging the fill handle

Use a formula to apply conditional formatting

Excel functions (by category)

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