Introduction To Excel formulas and functions

Spreadsheets are such a mainstay in today’s world that the term spreadsheet is just about a household word. Certainly in our homes it is. And we don’t just mean because we write topics on Excel. Spouses use Excel to track household expenditures and insurance claims. A neighbor analyzes his eBay transactions in Excel. The local merchant keeps tabs on his store’s inventory on a worksheet.
In the workplace, Excel is one of the most commonly used analysis and reporting tools. Financial statements, sales reports, inventory, project scheduling, customer activity — so much of this stuff is kept in Excel, and it’s the ability of Excel to manipulate and give feedback about the data that makes it so attractive.

How This Topic Is Organized

This topic is organized in five parts. The topic explains how to use 150 or so functions, but these are not listed alphabetically anywhere. Instead, the subject matter of each part indicates what type of functions are covered. Use the index to find the page numbers for particular functions. But do read chapters that pertain to your interest. For all you know, there are other functions that are even better suited. With that said, dig into what is inside each part of the topic.

Part I: Getting Started with Excel Formulas and Functions

Part I is introductory of course, but not all of it is so basic. Chapter 1 is the de facto intro chapter. That’s where you can brush up on how Excel works, or even read a few elements about it for the first time.
Chapters 2, 3, and 4 cover what is likely to be new ground to many readers. Specifically using the Insert Function dialog box, using array formulas and functions, and correcting formulas are covered. Looking through these chapters can help you down the road.

Part II: Evaluating Loans and Investments in Excel

As the name implies, Part II is all about money. Several functions in Excel work with loan factors, interest rates, and returns on investments. This is the place to go to create worksheets that track costs, revenue, and the like. Part of the discussion in Part II is about currency formatting.

Part III: Working with Numbers in Excel

A rather sizeable Part that covers a rather sizeable topic. Chapters 7 shows you how to use the basic math functions. This is where you read about the SUM, ROUND, and INT functions that are so often used in Excel. Chapter 8 takes this up a notch to cover advanced math functions. This is where you find some real gems, such as SUMPRODUCT and MOD.
Chapters 9, 10, and 11 show you how to work with statistical functions. Each of these chapters focuses on a specific discipline. Chapter 9 covers the functions used in descriptive statistics, such as the ever-popular AVERAGE function, along with many related functions that tell you details about your data.
Chapter 10 is focused on significance tests. Chapter 11 rounds out the statistical functions with a focus on those used in predicting factors. This last chapter is where you read about forecasting and looking for trends.

Part IV: Working with Data in Excel

This Part is a biggie. Here is where you read about working with dates and times; how to work with strings of text; and how to pluck out pieces of data from a database (an area of rows and columns that is).
Chapter 12 and 13 are the date and time chapters. Chapter 14 covers a number of cool functions, such as the amazing IF and the workhorses HLookup and VLookup. Chapter 15 explains functions that tell you information about your data and computer; and working with errors.
Chapter 16 is all about strings. No, I don’t mean the kind to fly kites. A string is a text value, and there is so much you can do to manipulate them. Lastly, Chapter 17 explains all the database functions.

Part V: The last Part

And then there’s the Part of Tens — a For  tradition if ever there was one. In this Part, we have included three chapters: Ten tips for working with formulas; the ten top functions (and the winner is . . .); and ten cool functions to do with the Analysis ToolPak. Don’t know what that is? Read the chapter!

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