Excel 2010 Introduction – Lesson 4 – Using Excel Functions

 Lesson Four: Using Excel Functions

This module introduces Excel functions, which are a little like templates for common formulas. There are many different types of functions. This module will introduce the new function names introduced in Excel 2010. We’ll take a look at the Formulas tab introduced in the Ribbon for Excel 2007. We’ll look at the SUM function and other basic common functions. Finally, this module will explain how to use the Status Bar to perform simple calculations.

Formulas vs. Functions

Formulas combine cell references and operators to perform calculations. Functions use function names and arguments. The syntax for a function is always the same: =NAME(Arguments).

Use the following procedure to open the Insert Function dialog box.

  1. Click the Insert Function tool right next to the Formula Bar.


Investigate the different categories and functions in the Insert Function dialog box. View the bottom part of the screen where the syntax and description of the function appear.

Using the SUM Function

The SUM function adds up a series of numbers. Instead of having to repeatedly type + and click references, you can use the SUM function.
Use the following procedure to use a SUM function to add the total for each category in the sample file

  1. Click on the Total –First Six Months column for the first category (cell H5).
  2. Click on the SUM tool in the Editing Group on the Home tab of the Ribbon.

  1. Excel enters the function with a default selection of the cell references you want to use in the function highlighted.

  1. If the cell references are not accurate, you can drag the highlighted area to include additional cells or remove cells you do not want used in the function.
  2. Press ENTER to complete the function.

Excel performs the calculation and moves to the next row. In the following illustration, the cell with the function is active, so that you can see the function syntax in the Formula Bar and the result in the cell.

Using Other Basic Excel Functions

In addition to the SUM function, there are several other functions that are commonly used. You can access these by clicking the arrow next to the SUM tool on the Ribbon.
Use the following procedure to use the AVERAGE function as an example of another function.

  1. Add a new label in column I: Average.
  2. Click on the cell in the Average column for the first category.
  3. Click on the arrow next to the SUM function to see the list of other common functions.

  1. Select Average.

Excel enters the function with the most likely cell references.

  1. Replace the cell references so that cell H5 is not included in the average.

  1. Press ENTER to complete the function.

Understanding the Formulas Tab

The Formulas tab on the Ribbon is used to help create functions. You can access Excel’s functions in the Function Library group. This saves you the trouble of typing the function name, and provides you with some help entering the arguments.

Shown here is the Formulas tab on the Ribbon.

Using the Status Bar to Perform Calculations

To learn how to use the Status Bar to perform basic functions and to learn how to customize the Status Bar.

Use the following procedure to customize the Status Bar.

  1. Right click on the Status Bar to see a list of Functions that can be displayed. For this example, select MIN and MAX.

  1. Press ESC or click elsewhere in the worksheet to close the Customize Status Bar list.View the calculations performed when you highlight a group of cells.

Understanding the New Function Names

Some of the functions in previous versions of Excel have been renamed. The new functions have improved performance.

The old functions are available if you need backward compatibility. If you do not need compatibility with previous versions of Excel, always use the new function names for best performance.
Shown here are the icons that appear when entering a function name. The old names have a yellow warning triangle next to them.

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