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Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft® Office Excel 2003 in 24 Hours by Trudi Reisner

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How Formulas Work

A formula is a cell entry that calculates values to return a result. Each Excel formula must have three key elements: the equal sign (=) that signifies that the entry is a formula, the values or cell references to be calculated, and the mathematical operators, such as a plus sign (+) for addition or a minus sign (-) for subtraction.

All Excel formulas must begin with the equal sign. The equal sign tells Excel that the entry is a formula. If your formula begins without an equal sign, Excel treats it as a regular cell entry and doesn't perform the calculation.

If you begin a formula with a plus sign (+), Excel converts it to an ...

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