Formulas are what make a spreadsheet program so useful. If it weren't for formulas, a spreadsheet would simply be a glorified word processing document that has great support for tabular information. You use formulas in your Excel worksheets to calculate results from the data stored in the worksheet. When data changes, the formulas calculate updated results with no extra effort on your part. This chapter introduces formulas and functions and helps you get up to speed with these important elements.

A formula consists of special code entered into a cell. It performs a calculation of some type and returns a result, which is displayed in the cell. Formulas use a variety of operators and worksheet functions to work with values and text. The values and text used in formulas can be located in other cells, which makes changing data easy and gives worksheets their dynamic nature. For example, you can see multiple scenarios quickly by changing the data in a worksheet and letting your formulas do the work.

A formula can consist of any of these elements:

Mathematical operators, such as + (for addition) and * (for multiplication)

Cell references (including named cells and ranges)

Values or text

Worksheet functions (such as ...

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