Introduction To Formulas & Functions In Microsoft Excel

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Introduction To Formulas & Functions In Microsoft Excel

As I wrote earlier on the Excel introduction page, one of the things that makes Excel widely used is the completeness of the Formulas and Functions features

Excel formulas and functions are used to help us make it easier to do various calculation processes and data processing in Excel. 

Then what is meant by formulas and functions in Microsoft Excel? What are the differences between the two?

1) Understanding Excel formulas

What is a formula in Microsoft Excel?

Broadly speaking, what is meant by a formula or formula in Microsoft Excel is a mathematical equation for calculating certain values ​​in order to get the expected results on Microsoft Excel. 

We can use this (Excel Formula) in simple to super complex calculations, whether for data in the form of numbers, text, dates, times, or a combination of these types of data. 

You can learn more about the types of data in Excel in the following sections: Data Types in Microsoft Excel.

It should be noted that how to use Microsoft Excel formulas always begins with an equal sign (=). In addition, an Excel formula can involve Excel functions, references, constants and generally also involves basic operators in Microsoft Excel.

For example, for example we will add the numbers 10, 20, 30 then the excel formula is:


Another example if we want to find the average of 10,20,30 then the excel formula is:

= (10+20+30)/3

In the two examples of excel formulas above, the excel formula uses constants (10, 20, 30, 3) and addition (+) and division (/) operators.

Examples of excel formulas involving excel functions are as follows:

=SUM (A1:A10)

Examples of excel formulas that involve cell references are as follows:



I have encountered quite a few and it is common place that Excel formulas are equated with Excel functions. Even though the two terms in Microsoft Excel should have different explanations. 

After introducing Excel formulas, we will explain the meaning of Excel functions.

2) Understanding Excel Functions

As for what is meant by the excel function in outline is a preset of formulas that aim to simplify formulas to make the data calculation process shorter and of course relatively easier to work with.

Excel functions are formulas that have been defined by Microsoft Excel or in other words, ready-to-use formulas created to simplify long and complicated calculations.

For example, if we are going to add up data in the form of numbers 10, 20, and 30 then the function you can use is the SUM function:

=SUM (10; 20; 30)

Meanwhile, to find the average of the data we use the AVERAGE function:

=AVERAGE (10; 20; 30)

If it only involves three numbers as in the example above, of course there will not be a significant difference, but try to imagine if we are already dealing with hundreds or even thousands of data. We will really feel the benefits of the function in Microsoft Excel.

From the explanation above, can you tell the difference between an (Excel function) and an (Excel formula)?

3) Excel Formulas Parts

How to use Excel formulas? it's always begin with an equal sign (=). In addition, an excel formula can consist of one or all of the following:

  • Excel functions
  • Calculation operator
  • Value of numbers or text directly (constant)
  • Reference the address of a cell or range
  • Cell / range name

To be clearer, pay attention to the picture of the parts of an excel formula below:

Excel Formula Parts  Formulas

1) SAME WITH (=): The equal sign or "=" is the initial sign of writing excel formulas that must be written if we want to create or use any formulas.

2) FUNCTION: A function is a certain code that performs certain calculations in Excel based on the arrangement of arguments that have been set in Microsoft Excel.

Functions can be used to perform simple or complex calculations. For example, the SUM function is an Excel function that is used to add data.

3) REFERENCE: Reference is a reference to a cell or range on a worksheet, either on the same sheet or on a different sheet. In the example above, for example B2: B5 is a reference in the form of a range (collection of cells) while C2 is a reference in the form of a single cell.

4) CONSTANT: A constant is a value that is not the result of a calculation, therefore the value is always the same or does not change. Constants can be text or numbers that you enter directly into a formula, for example, the number 3

5) OPERATOR: Operators are character symbols that define the type of calculation you want to run on an excel formula. In the example above, the operator is the * (multiplication) and / (division) sign.

4) Excel Function Syntax

The use of the Microsoft Excel function in an Excel formula is always followed by brackets "(...)" where in the brackets we can enter arguments or additional data that will be calculated by the function.

NAME FUNCTION(Argument1; Argument2; Argument3; etc...)

In the Tooltips argument in the image below, there is a description of the argument enclosed in square brackets "[...]". These brackets indicate that the argument is optional or may not be used.

Some Excel functions, although they do not require arguments, must include parentheses when used to construct an Excel formula, for example the NOW and TODAY functions. For example, if the NOW function is used in the Excel formula, it is written "= NOW ()".

To be clearer, consider the following picture of the structural parts of the excel function:

Parts of Excel Function  Function Structure


1) STRUCTURE: Function structure starts with an equal sign (=), followed by the function name, opening brackets, arguments for the function separated by semicolons (;).

If an excel function is not used at the beginning of the formula, there is no need to add an "=" sign again, just 1 equals (=) at the beginning of the formula.

2) FUNCTION NAME: The function name in the example above is the IF function. Function name. For a list of existing functions, click the cell and press .Shift + F3

3) ARGUMENT : Arguments can be numbers, text, logical values ​​such as TRUE or FALSE, arrays, error values ​​such as # N / A, or cell references. The arguments you specify must return valid values ​​for that argument. Arguments can also be constants, formulas, or other functions. And note that each function has a different argument.

4) ARGUMENT TOOLTIPS: Tooltips with syntax and arguments appear when you type a function. Tooltips only appear for built-in excel functions.

If a function has more than one argument, the arguments are separated by a comma (,) or a semicolon (;) according to the regional settings of the computer you are using. 

From a little explanation about functions and (Excel formulas) above, I often encounter Excel users who are wrong or not quite right in using the two terms in Excel. Many Excel users equate or rather use the term function as excel formula.

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