12 Basic Excel Functions Everyone Should Know


Microsoft Excel includes many features that allow you to perform tasks without a calculator or extra work. But if you’re not familiar with formulas, it can feel intimidating. Here we’ve listed 12 simple yet useful Excel functions to get you started.

1. Add numbers in cells: SUM

One of the most basic things you can do with numbers is add them. The habits SUM function in Excel allows you to add numbers in cells.

The syntax is SUM(value1, value2,…) where value1 is required and value2 is optional. So you can use a number, cell reference, or range of cells for each argument.

For example, to add the numbers in cells A2 through A10, enter the following and press Enter:

=SUM(A2:A10)

You will then get your result in the cell with the formula.

2. Average Numbers in Cells: AVERAGE

Averaging a group of numbers is another common math function.

The syntax is the same for the AVERAGE function in Excel as for the SUM function, AVERAGE(value1, value2,…) with value1 required and value2 optional. You can enter cell references or ranges for the arguments.

To average the numbers in cells A2 through A10, enter the following formula and press Enter:

=AVERAGE(A2:A10)

You will then get your average in the cell with the formula.

RELATED: How to Calculate a Weighted Average in Excel

3. Find the high or low value: MIN and MAX

When you need to find the minimum or maximum value in a range of cells, use the MIN and MAX functions.

The syntax for these functions is the same as the others, MIN(value1, value2,…) and MAX(value1, value2,…) where value1 is required and value2 is optional.

To find the minimum, lowest value in a group of cells, enter the following and replace the cell references with your own. Then press Enter:

=MIN(B2:B10)

And to find the maximum, highest value, use:

=MAX(B2:B10)

You will then see the smallest or largest value in the cell with the formula.

4. Find the middle value: MEDIAN

Instead of the minimum or maximum value, you may want the middle one.

As you might have guessed, the syntax is the same, MEDIAN(value1, value2,…) with the first argument required and the second optional.

For the middle value in a range of cells, enter the following and press Enter:

=MEDIAN(A2:A10)

You will then see the middle number of your cell range.

5. Count cells with numbers: COUNT

maybe you want count how many cells in a range contain numbers. For this you would use the COUNT function.

The syntax is the same as the above two functions, COUNT(value1, value2,…) with the first argument required and the second optional.

To count the number of cells that contain numbers in the range A1 to B10, enter the following and press Enter:

=COUNT(A1:B10)

You will then get your count in the cell with the formula.

RELATED: How to Count Cells in Microsoft Excel

6. Enter the current date and time: NOW

To display the current date and time when you open your spreadsheet, use the NOW function in Excel.

The syntax is NOW() because the function has no required arguments. However, you can add or remove the current date and time if desired.

To return the current date and time, enter the following and press Enter:

=NOW()

To return the date and time five days in the future from the current date and time, enter this formula and press Enter:

=NOW()+5

And this is what the results would look like for each of the above formulas.

7. Round to a certain number of digits: ROUND

If you have decimal numbers in your sheet that you want to round up or down, use the ROUND function in Excel.

The syntax is ROUND(value1, digits) where both arguments are required. For value1, use the number you want to round. For numbers, use the number of decimal places to round the number.

For example, to round the number 2.25 to one decimal, enter the following and press Enter:

=ROUND (2.25,1)

And you have your results. To round down, just use a negative number for the number argument.

8. Cut off a number by removing the fraction: TRUNC

You may prefer to truncate a number rather than round it. The habits TRUNC function, you can remove the fraction from the number.

The syntax is TRUNC(value1, digits) with value1 required and digits optional. If you do not enter the numbers, the default value is zero.

So to truncate the number 7.2, enter the following and press Enter:

=TREE(7.2)

The result of this formula would be the number seven.

9. Find the product by multiplying cells: PRODUCT

if you must multiply multiple cells, using the PRODUCT function is more efficient than using the multiplication symbol

in a formula.

The syntax is PRODUCT(value1, value2,…) with value1 required and value2 optional. You can use value1 for the cell range and value2 for an additional range of cells if needed.

To find the product of cells A2 through A10, enter the following and press Enter:

=PRODUCT(A2:A10)

As you can see, this is much easier than entering A2 * A3 * A4 and so on.

RELATED: How to Add or Multiply Values ​​with Paste Special in Microsoft Excel

10. Use the reference number of a particular cell: COLUMN and ROW The COLUMN and ROW functions in Excel allow you to return the position number of a cell. These functions are useful for entering a series of reference numbers in your sheet, or

row numbers for example.

The syntax for each is COLUMN(reference) and ROW(reference) where the argument is not required. If you do not enter an argument, the formula returns the reference to the cell that contains the formula.

For example, if you enter the following formula in cell B2, the result would be 2 because B2 is in the second row.

=ROW()

But if you enter the following formula with an argument, you will get the reference number for the cell.

=ROW(C5)

You can see here; the result is 5 because C5 is in the fifth row.

11. Eliminate Whitespace: TRIM When you paste or import data, it often contains extra spaces. The

TRIM function eliminates white space.

The syntax is TRIM(reference) with the argument needed for the cell reference containing the data.

To remove extra spaces from cell A1, enter the following and press Enter:

=TRIM(A1)

You will then see the referenced data in your cell without the leading and trailing spaces.

12. Count the number of characters in a string: LEN You may need to find the number of characters in a text string. Here you would find the . use

LEN function in Excel.

The syntax is LEN(reference) with the required argument to the cell reference containing the text.

To find the number of characters in cell A1, enter the following formula and press Enter:

=LENGTH(A1)

The result is 25 because “Use the data from Finance” contains that number of characters and note that spaces are counted as characters.

There are many other useful functions in Excel, such as VLOOKUP for finding a value and CONCATENATE for concatenating text strings. But this list of basics should help you with simple tasks while getting comfortable using features.

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