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Learn Excel 2011 for Mac by Guy Hart-Davis

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Understanding the Difference Between Formulas and Functions

In Excel, you can perform calculations in two main ways, each of which starts with an equal sign:

  • By using a function. A function is a preset calculation that performs a standard calculation. For example, when you need to add several values together, you use the SUM() function—for instance, =SUM(1,2,3,4,5,6), which is simpler than =1+2+3+4+5+6 but has the same effect.
  • By using a formula. A formula is a custom calculation that you create when none of Excel's functions does what you need. The word formula tends to sound imposing, but a formula can be a simple calculation; for example, to subtract 50 from 100, you can type =100-50 in a cell (the equal sign tells Excel you're starting a ...

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