Welcome to this tutorial on how to do calculations in Excel. Whether you’re new to Excel or simply looking to improve your skills, one of the most fundamental tasks you’ll need to learn is how to perform calculations. Excel is a powerful tool for accurately and efficiently performing complex mathematical calculations, but it can be intimidating for those who are not familiar with the software.
In this tutorial, we will provide stepbystep guidance on how to perform basic mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in Excel. We will also cover more advanced calculations, such as using functions and formulas to manipulate data and create complex calculations.
By the end of this tutorial, you will have a solid understanding of how to perform calculations
Basic Calculations in Excel
The first step towards learning how to do calculations in Excel is to get familiar with the fundamental mathematical operations. The most basic calculations in Excel involve adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing numbers.
Addition and Subtraction
To add or subtract numbers in Excel:
 Select the cell where you want the result to appear
 Type the equal sign (=)
 Type the first number
 Type the plus sign (+) for addition, or the minus sign () for subtraction
 Type the second number
 Press Enter
For example, to add the numbers 10 and 5, you would type “=10+5” into the cell and press Enter. The result, 15, would appear in the cell.
Multiplication and Division
To multiply or divide numbers in Excel:
 Select the cell where you want the result to appear
 Type the equal sign (=)
 Type the first number
 Type the asterisk (*) for multiplication, or the slash (/) for division
 Type the second number
 Press Enter
For example, to multiply the numbers 10 and 5, you would type “=10*5” into the cell and press Enter. The result, 50, would appear in the cell. Similarly, to divide 10 by 5, you would type “=10/5” into the cell and press Enter. The result, 2, would appear in the cell.
Using Functions and Formulas for Calculations
Excel offers a wide range of functions and formulas that allow you to perform complex calculations with ease. Functions are prebuilt formulas that are designed to perform specific calculations, while formulas allow you to create your own custom calculations.
Functions
To use a function in Excel:
 Select the cell where you want the result to appear
 Type the equal sign (=)
 Type the name of the function you want to use
 Type an opening parenthesis
 Type the required arguments for the function (e.g. the range of cells to calculate)
 Type a closing parenthesis
 Press Enter
For example, to find the average of a range of numbers, you would use the function “=AVERAGE(range)”, where “range” is the range of cells you want to include in the calculation.
Formulas
To create a formula in Excel:
 Select the cell where you want the result to appear
 Type the equal sign (=)
 Type the formula you want to use (e.g. “=SUM(A1:A5)” to add the values of cells A1 through A5)
 Type Enter
Formulas can be as simple or as complex as you need them to be, allowing you to perform virtually any calculation you can imagine.
Excel is a powerful tool for performing calculations, from basic arithmetic operations to complex functions and formulas. By following the steps outlined in this tutorial, you should now have a solid understanding of how to do calculations in Excel and be well on your way to becoming an Excel expert.
Working with Formulas in Excel
Excel allows users to create formulas that are helpful in carrying out calculations in Excel. Formulas use cell references to select a range of numbers in the calculation. The equal sign at the beginning of each formula is very important as it enables Excel to recognize it as a formula. A cell reference consists of the column letter (s) and row number(s) of the cell.
Relative and Absolute Cell References
Excel provides two types of cell references that are used in formulas: relative reference and absolute reference. Relative cell references usually adjust automatically whenever a formula is copied to another cell, while absolute cell references remain constant. To define an absolute reference, the dollar sign ($) is placed in front of the column letter or the row number, as shown in “$A$1”.
Using the SUM Function
The SUM function is used to add up a range of cells in Excel. This function can be very helpful when making financial reports or calculating budgets. To use the SUM function, type “=SUM(” in the cell where the answer will appear. After this, select the range of cells that you want to add up. Finally, type “)” to complete the command. An example of a SUM formula is “=SUM(A1:A5)”.
Common Excel Calculation Errors and How to Fix Them
Despite being a great tool for calculations, Excel sometimes produces formula errors because of various factors. Common errors include the #REF error, #### error, #VALUE! error, #NAME? error and others. These errors indicate that there is something wrong with the formula entered in the cell. Here are some of the ways on how to fix these errors:
Check the formula for errors
Go through the formula entered in the cell and check for any typing errors. Ensure that all the necessary brackets and operators are added correctly.
Look for the source of the error
Click on the cell displaying the error to display an error message that provides a more descriptive explanation of the error. Once you identify the error, address it using the right method.
Check whether cell references are correct
Mistakenly referencing the wrong cell can lead to calculation errors in Microsoft Excel. Doublecheck that the cell references specified in the formula match the correct cells containing the data.
Recalculate formulae
Alternatively, formulas that aren’t recalculated automatically can also result in error output. To force an update, press the “F9” button to update any calculation errors in the workbook. Alternatively, you can change the options to update the formulas whenever you make any changes.
Calculations in Excel form the most fundamental task in data analysis and recording. Excel allows users to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, and to use advanced functions and formulas to calculate and manipulate data. By following the guidelines outlined here, you should have a good foundation for performing calculations in Excel.
FAQs
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about performing calculations in Excel:
What is a formula in Excel?
A formula in Excel is a combination of mathematical or logical operations used to perform calculations. Formulas can range from basic arithmetic operations like addition and subtraction to more complex calculations that involve multiple functions, cell references, or values.
What is the difference between a function and a formula in Excel?
A function in Excel is a prebuilt formula that is designed to perform a specific calculation, while a formula is a userdefined calculation that can be customized to perform a wide range of different calculations. Functions are often simpler and more convenient to use, while formulas are more flexible and can be adapted to a wider range of scenarios.
How do I fix calculation errors in Excel?
If you’re experiencing calculation errors in Excel, there are several steps you can take to fix them. These include checking the formula for errors, looking for the source of the error, checking whether cell references are correct, and recalculating the formulae. Refer back to the “Common Excel Calculation Errors and How to Fix Them” section of this post for more detailed guidance on fixing calculation errors.
What are some important Excel functions I should know?
There are many important Excel functions that can help you perform a wide range of calculations, including:
 SUM: adds up a range of numbers
 AVERAGE: finds the average of a range of numbers
 MAX: finds the highest value in a range
 MIN: finds the lowest value in a range
There are many more Excel functions available, so explore the software to find the ones that are most useful for your needs.
Can I perform calculations with nonnumeric data in Excel?
Excel is primarily designed to work with numeric data, but you can also perform certain calculations with nonnumeric data, such as text. For example, you can use the CONCATENATE function to combine text from multiple cells, or the LEFT and RIGHT functions to extract specific characters from a cell containing text. However, if you’re working primarily with nonnumeric data, there may be more suitable software alternatives to Excel.
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