Quick start: Create a formula

Formulas are equations that can perform calculations, return information, manipulate the contents of other cells, test conditions, and more. A formula always starts with an equal sign (=).

The following table shows some examples of formulas and their descriptions.

Formula

Description

=5+2*3    

Adds 5 to the product of 2 times 3.

=SQRT(A1)    

Uses the SQRT function to return the square root of the value in A1.

=TODAY()    

Returns the current date.

=IF(A1>0,"Plus","Minus")    

Tests the cell A1 to determine if it contains a value greater than 0. If the result of the test is true, the text "Plus" appears in the cell; if the result is false, the text "Minus" appears.

How?

Icon image

Select a cell and start typing    

In a cell, type an equal sign (=) to start the formula.

Icon image

Fill in the rest of the formula    

Do one of the following:

  • Type a combination of numbers and operators; for example, 3+7.

  • Use the mouse to select other cells (inserting an operator between them). For example, select B1 and then type a plus sign (+), select C1 and type +, and then select D1.

  • Type a letter to choose from a list of worksheet functions. For example, typing "a" displays all available functions that start with the letter "a."

    Creating formulas in different ways

Icon image

Complete the formula    

  • To complete a formula that uses a combination of numbers, cell references, and operators, press ENTER.

  • To complete a formula that uses a function, fill in the required information for the function and then press ENTER. For example, the ABS function requires one numeric value — this can be a number that you type, or a cell that you select that contains a number.

Your completed formulas might look like the following examples:

Formula

Description

=3+7

Adds two numbers

=B1+C1+D1

Adds the values in three cells

=ABS(-3)

Converts a number to its positive value

Next steps

Top of Page

Was this information helpful?

Great! Any other feedback?

How can we improve it?

Thank you for your feedback!

×