How to create an excel formula

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One of the most important spreadsheet functions is using formulas to calculate values in cells (so one cell can be defined, say, as the sum of two others minus a third cell). When the values that make up a formula change, the cell that contains the formula's total value is automatically recalculated. These steps work for Microsoft Excel 97.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Excel Book
  • Microsoft Excel

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  1. 1

    Start Microsoft Excel and open the file you want to change.

  2. 2

    Double-click on the cell where you want the total to appear.

  3. 3

    Press the = key on the keyboard. This tells Excel that you are entering a formula into the cell.

  4. 4

    Enter the formula, then press Enter. Follow the steps below for an example.

  5. 5

    Enter an opening parenthesis character: (.

  6. 6

    Enter a cell name. For example: =(E2.

  7. 7

    Press the + key.

  8. 8

    Enter another cell name and a closing parenthesis character: ). For example: =(E2+E3).

  9. 9

    Enter a minus sign and a third cell name. For example: =(E2+E3)-E4.

  10. 10

    Press the Enter key to accept the formula. The cell will display the sum of the first two cells minus the third cell.

Tips and warnings

  • Formulas are just equations. Instead of adding or subtracting numbers you are adding and subtracting the contents of a cell.
  • Excel includes a number of predefined functions to use as well. You can combine the predefined functions into your own formula. (See "How to Use Provided Excel Formulas.")

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