Basic Excel formulas & functions with examples

The tutorial provides a list of Excel basic formulas and functions with examples and links to related in-depth tutorials.

Being primarily designed as a spreadsheet program, Microsoft Excel is extremely powerful and versatile when it comes to calculating numbers or solving math and engineering problems. It enables you to total or average a column of numbers in the blink of an eye. Apart from that, you can compute a compound interest and weighted average, get the optimal budget for your advertising campaign, minimize the shipment costs or make the optimal work schedule for your employees. All this is done by entering formulas in cells.

This tutorial aims to teach you the essentials of Excel functions and show how to use basic formulas in Excel.

The basics of Excel formulas

Before providing the basic Excel formulas list, let's define the key terms just to make sure we are on the same page. So, what do we call an Excel formula and Excel function?

  • Formula is an expression that calculates values in a cell or in a range of cells.

    For example, =A2+A2+A3+A4 is a formula that adds up the values in cells A2 through A4.

  • Function is a predefined formula already available in Excel. Functions perform specific calculations in a particular order based on the specified values, called arguments, or parameters.

For example, instead of specifying each value to be summed like in the above formula, you can use the SUM function to add up a range of cells: =SUM(A2:A4)

You can find all available Excel functions in the Function Library on the Formulas tab:
Basic Excel functions

There exist 400+ functions in Excel, and the number is growing by version to version. Of course, it's next to impossible to memorize all of them, and you actually don't need to. The Function Wizard will help you find the function best suited for a particular task, while the Excel Formula Intellisense will prompt the function's syntax and arguments as soon as you type the function's name preceded by an equal sign in a cell:

Excel Formula Intellisense

Clicking the function's name will turn it into a blue hyperlink, which will open the Help topic for that function.

Tip. You don't necessarily have to type a function name in all caps, Microsoft Excel will automatically capitalize it once you finish typing the formula and press the Enter key to complete it.

10 Excel basic functions you should definitely know

What follows below is a list of 10 simple yet really helpful functions that are a necessary skill for everyone who wishes to turn from an Excel novice to an Excel professional.


The first Excel function you should be familiar with is the one that performs the basic arithmetic operation of addition:

SUM(number1, [number2], …)

In the syntax of all Excel functions, an argument enclosed in [square brackets] is optional, other arguments are required. Meaning, your Sum formula should include at least 1 number, reference to a cell or a range of cells. For example:

=SUM(B2:B6) - adds up values in cells B2 through B6.

=SUM(B2, B6) - adds up values in cells B2 and B6.

If necessary, you can perform other calculations within a single formula, for example, add up values in cells B2 through B6, and then divide the sum by 5:


To sum with conditions, use the SUMIF function: in the 1st argument, you enter the range of cells to be tested against the criteria (A2:A6), in the 2nd argument - the criteria itself (D2), and in the last argument - the cells to sum (B2:B6):

=SUMIF(A2:A6, D2, B2:B6)

In your Excel worksheets, the formulas may look something similar to this:
Using SUM formulas in Excel

Tip. The fastest way to sum a column or row of numbers is to select a cell next to the numbers you want to sum (the cell immediately below the last value in the column or to the right of the last number in the row), and click the AutoSum button on the Home tab, in the Formats group. Excel will insert a SUM formula for you automatically.

Useful resources:


The Excel AVERAGE function does exactly what its name suggests, i.e. finds an average, or arithmetic mean, of numbers. Its syntax is similar to SUM's:

AVERAGE(number1, [number2], …)

Having a closer look at the formula from the previous section (=SUM(B2:B6)/5), what does it actually do? Sums values in cells B2 through B6, and then divides the result by 5. And what do you call adding up a group of numbers and then dividing the sum by the count of those numbers? Yep, an average!

The Excel AVERAGE function performs these calculations behind the scenes. So, instead of dividing sum by count, you can simply put this formula in a cell:


To average cells based on condition, use the following AVERAGEIF formula, where A2:A6 is the criteria range, D3 is he criteria, and B2:B6 are the cells to average:

=AVERAGEIF(A2:A6, D3, B2:B6)

Using an Average formula in Excel

Useful resources:


The MAX and MIN formulas in Excel get the largest and smallest value in a set of numbers, respectively. For our sample data set, the formulas will be as simple as:



Using MIN and MAX formulas in Excel

Useful resources:


If you are curious to know how many cells in a given range contain numeric values (numbers or dates), don't waste your time counting them by hand. The Excel COUNT function will bring you the count in a heartbeat:

COUNT(value1, [value2], …)

While the COUNT function deals only with those cells that contain numbers, the COUNTA function counts all cells that are not blank, whether they contain numbers, dates, times, text, logical values of TRUE and FALSE, errors or empty text strings (""):

COUNTA (value1, [value2], …)

For example, to find out how many cells in column B contain numbers, use this formula:


To count all non-empty cells in column B, go with this one:


In both formulas, you use the so-called "whole column reference" (B:B) that refers to all the cells within column B.

The following screenshot shows the difference: while COUNT processes only numbers, COUNTA outputs the total number of non-blank cells in column B, including the the text value in the column header.

COUNT and COUNTA formulas in Excel

Useful resources:


Judging by the number of IF-related comments on our blog, it's the most popular function in Excel. In simple terms, you use an IF formula to ask Excel to test a certain condition and return one value or perform one calculation if the condition is met, and another value or calculation if the condition is not met:

IF(logical_test, [value_if_true], [value_if_false])

For example, the following IF statement checks if the order is completed (i.e. there is a value in column C) or not. To test if a cell is not blank, you use the "not equal to" operator ( <>) in combination with an empty string (""). As the result, if cell C2 is not empty, the formula returns "Yes", otherwise "No":

=IF(C2<>"", "Yes", "No")

Using an IF formula in Excel

Useful resources:


If your obviously correct Excel formulas return just a bunch of errors, one of the first things to check is extra spaces in the referenced cells (You may be surprised to know how many leading, trailing and in-between spaces lurk unnoticed in your sheets just until something goes wrong!).

There are several ways to remove unwanted spaces in Excel, with the TRIM function being the easiest one:


For example, to trim extra spaces in column A, enter the following formula in cell A1, and then copy it down the column:


It will eliminate all extra spaces in cells but a single space character between words:
Excel TRIM formula

Useful resources:


Whenever you want to know the number of characters in a certain cell, LEN is the function to use:


Wish to find out how many characters are in cell A2? Just type the below formula into another cell:


Please keep in mind that the Excel LEN function counts absolutely all characters including spaces:
Using a LEN formula in Excel

Want to get the total count of characters in a range or cells or count only specific characters? Please check out the following resources.

Useful resources:


These are the two most popular logical functions to check multiple criteria. The difference is how they do this:

  • AND returns TRUE if all conditions are met, FALSE otherwise.
  • OR returns TRUE if any condition is met, FALSE otherwise.

While rarely used on their own, these functions come in very handy as part of bigger formulas.

For example, to check the test results in columns B and C and return "Pass" if both are greater than 60, "Fail" otherwise, use the following IF formula with an embedded AND statement:

=IF(AND(B2>60, B2>60), "Pass", "Fail")

If it's sufficient to have just one test score greater than 60 (either test 1 or test 2), embed the OR statement:

=IF(OR(B2>60, B2>60), "Pass", "Fail")

IF formulas with embedded AND/OR statements

Useful resources:


In case you want to take values from two or more cells and combine them into one cell, use the concatenate operator (&) or the CONCATENATE function:

CONCATENATE(text1, [text2], …)

For example, to combine the values from cells A2 and B2, just enter the following formula in a different cell:


To separate the combined values with a space, type the space character (" ") in the arguments list:


Using a CONCATENATE formula in Excel

Useful resources:


To see the current date and time whenever you open your worksheet without having to manually update it on a daily basis, use either:

=TODAY() to insert the today's date in a cell.

=NOW() to insert the current date and time in a cell.

The beauty of these functions is that they don't require any arguments at all, you type the formulas exactly as written above.
Using the TODAY and NOW functions in Excel

Useful resources:

Best practices for writing Excel formulas

Now that you are familiar with the basic Excel formulas, these tips will give you some guidance on how to use them most effectively and avoid common formula errors.

Do not enclose numbers in double quotes

Any text included in your Excel formulas should be enclosed in "quotation marks". However, you should never do that to numbers, unless you want Excel to treat them as text values.

For example, to check the value in cell B2 and return 1 for "Passed", 0 otherwise, you put the following formula, say, in C2:

=IF(B2="pass", 1, 0)

Copy the formula down to other cells and you will have a column of 1's and 0's that can be calculated without a hitch.

Now, see what happens if you double quote the numbers:

=IF(B2="pass", "1", "0")

At first sight, the output is normal - the same column of 1's and 0's. Upon a closer look, however, you will notice that the resulting values are left-aligned in cells by default, meaning those are numeric strings, not numbers! If later on someone will try to calculate those 1's and 0's, they might end up pulling their hair out trying to figure out why a 100% correct Sum or Count formula returns nothing but zero.
Enclose text values in double quotes, but not numbers

Don't format numbers in Excel formulas

Please remember this simple rule: numbers supplied to your Excel formulas should be entered without any formatting like decimal separator or dollar sign. In North America and some other countries, comma is the default argument separator, and the dollar sign ($) is used to make absolute cell references. Using those characters in numbers may just drive your Excel crazy :) So, instead of typing $2,000, simply type 2000, and then format the output value to your liking by setting up a custom Excel number format.

Match all opening and closing parentheses

When crating a complex Excel formula with one or more nested functions, you will have to use more than one set of parentheses to define the order of calculations. In such formulas, be sure to pair the parentheses properly so that there is a closing parenthesis for every opening parenthesis. To make the job easier for you, Excel shades parenthesis pairs in different colors when you enter or edit a formula.

Copy the same formula to other cells instead of re-typing it

Once you have typed a formula into a cell, there is no need to re-type it over and over again. Simply copy the formula to adjacent cells by dragging the fill handle (a small square at the lower right-hand corner of the cell). To copy the formula to the whole column, position the mouse pointer to the fill handle and double-click the plus sign.

Copying the formula to adjacent cells

Note. After copying the formula, make sure that all cell references are correct. Cell references may change depending on whether they are absolute (do not change) or relative (change).

For the detailed step-by-step instructions, please see How to copy formulas in Excel.

How to delete formula, but keep calculated value

When you remove a formula by pressing the Delete key, a calculated value is also deleted. However, you can delete only the formula and keep the resulting value in the cell. Here's how:

  • Select all cells with your formulas.
  • Press Ctrl + C to copy the selected cells.
  • Right-click the selection, and then click Paste Values > Values to paste the calculated values back to the selected cells. Or, press the Paste Special shortcut: Shift+F10 and then V.

For the detailed steps with screenshots, please see How to replace formulas with their values in Excel.

Make sure Calculation Options are set to Automatic

If all of a sudden your Excel formulas have stopped recalculating automatically, most likely the Calculation Options somehow switched to Manual. To fix this, go to the Formulas tab > Calculation group, click the Calculation Options button, and select Automatic.

If this does not help, check out these troubleshooting steps: Excel formulas not working: fixes & solutions.

This is how you make and manage basic formulas in Excel. I how you will find this information helpful. Anyway, I thank you for reading and hope to see you on our blog next week.

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393 comments to "Basic Excel formulas & functions with examples"

  1. Ronak Pambhar says:


    what are 5 and 284

    can anyone explain this formula?

  2. Himanshu says:

    Hi there, I have an excel sheet in which there are 95 records that is rows. and six columns. In the first row, first column is for the name of the student and the rest 5 columns contain five subject name.
    Rest 94 rows contains the name and the marks of the student corresponding to the subject.
    I want to give different names to these 94 rows. And the condition is that the name of the row should be the name of the student.

    Could you please tell me the solution.

  3. Himanshu says:

    Hi there, I have a sheet of 5th standard final report card. In which I have 60 student and 6 subject. I have the marks of all the students of all the subjects . I want to know the highest marks of a particular student just by entering the name of student. And the subject in which the student got the highest marks and the marks (highest) should be shown. Could you please tell me the formula for this query.

    Thank you in advance.

  4. Maryam says:

    There are 7 columns.
    1Adm No
    2 Name
    3 Fee structure
    4 Received Fee
    5 Pending Fee
    6 Paper Money
    7 Admission Fee
    I want to seperate those students whose fee is pending. Adm No ,Students Name and pending fee these three columns i want to automatically move another sheet .
    Which formula wil be apply .

  5. Guy Pusinelli says:

    i had came across a spreadsheet were it has a table with titles that doesn't change when you flip a page, typing a specific year to a assign field that it is already navigated by the developer of the template..... i am working on a spreadsheet recording salary for a corporation, and i was wondering if only you can help me create a task to a cell that only act like flipping pages within the same worksheet were default information remain along while the information reflect the change when data are enter and falls in specific time range that is assign to each page.

    This template I'm referring to is something to do with a Budget vs Actual template.

  6. Equbay Leake says:

    How I can with the same cell to for varying cell. I need the syntax. Example: I3*C17+I4*D17+I5*E17+I6*F17+I7*G17+I8*H17 the I3, I4 .... I8 I don't want to vary when their multiplier varies from cell to cell.

  7. Kidus says:

    what wrong with this formula? I can not fix the error.

  8. Ray says:

    What is the formula to always add the same cell as you draw down a column? eg. Wish to add the value in A1 after the cell has calculated a formula and be able to see the difference down the list if I change the single value in A1
    Cell A3=A2+A1
    Cell A4=A3+A1
    Cell A5=A4+A1.......down to cell A700

  9. G.Vithanage says:

    I have two spread sheet one of i yellow collar highlighted one of my active partner name and business registration number , other spread. sheet desperately are include all businesses name , now i want second spread sheet category a active and inactive , how i can get first spread sheet detail collared name as machine in to second sheet

  10. Sumit Barekar says:

    I want to show grace marks obtained by a student in the marksheet along with the grace marks symbol. Ex. 30+3

  11. Yawson Nicholas says:

    wanted help in how u gonna write a formula for summing the total of mark up to 100 buh prompting the user on a total score greater than 100 and less than zero

  12. ibrahim says:

    i have a problem, when i want to write a formula to add marks to the average scored of student who scored 44 (included) and 50 ( excluded) to get new average

  13. Dilip Thakur says:

    I m using excell in office but i want to save formula for name displaying system. For eg (By typing its pan number it should display its name saved in excell in next column) please help me

    Thank You

  14. Claire Overton says:

    I'm looking for a formula to calculate National Insurance payments please-
    Under £183 = 0%
    £183.01- £962 = 12%
    £962.01+ = 2%
    Im thinking SUMPRODUCT but getting lost, Thank you

  15. Renier says:

    Good day.
    I have a spread sheet of 300+ line. I want to add a formula what hides values what is the same amount, but opposite (positive and negetive).
    A1 -35,00
    B1 -34,80
    C1 -33,26
    D1 -15,00
    E1 32,12
    F1 33,26
    G1 34,80

    A1 - Stay
    (B1,G1) Hide
    (C1,F1) Hide
    D1 - Stay
    E1 - Stay

    Thank you

  16. Jaswant Kumar says:

    How can I get only numerical numbers from text.
    Hi please check 54618464
    51856792 requirements cleared
    Please check 3192675 and confirm

  17. Moazzam Ali says:

    Hi,Kindly guide me
    In column K check condition 1,2,3,4 then get value from column H and sum value below another table according to 1,2,3,4

    • Hello!
      I’m sorry but your task is not entirely clear to me. For me to be able to help you better, please describe your task in more detail. Please specify what you were trying to find, what formula you used and what problem or error occurred. Give an example of the source data and the expected result.
      It’ll help me understand it better and find a solution for you.

  18. TARA says:


    BULB 2 R50 15% R85

  19. Katie gross says:

    I have one Excel marklist that displays marks out of 100 in all subjects(10 subjects). I want to reduce all marks in the marklist to can i do that for entire marklist.pls reply urgent

  20. Fubar says:

    I new to Excel and being a complete Brain Dead moment i am trying to do a balance sheet,and I just cant seem to get old ballance showing new ballance value. It's a simple spreadsheet where:

    I have 3 columns.
    B2 is current balance £100
    C2 is Payment £30
    D2 is Balance £70
    BUT I then want B2 to show new ballance D2.
    Ie: B2 is Owing £100 C2 is I pay £30. D2 NEW BALANCE of £70. Then B2 shows new ballance of D2 £70.
    Hope this helps and thank you

  21. pradeesh says:

    lots of time taken while reading ,but it's more useful when work in excel with your tips to reduce working time ...thanks for sharing the valuble one..

  22. Christine Corrigan says:

    "Your students have completed their oral and written exams and you need to get their grade. If they received greater than or equal to 85 in both parts they will get a grade of A otherwise the grade is a Pass.
    Create the formula you would enter."
    Can you help me create this formula?
    Thank you for your help.

    • Hello!
      I’m sorry but your task is not entirely clear to me.
      Please describe your problem in more detail. Include an example of the source data and the result you want to get. It’ll help me understand your request better and find a solution for you. Thank you.

  23. Averon says:

    I'm trying to error proof an excel sheet. I need for the input be between 113.5 to 116.5. if it falls in-between that range then it's ok, if not then it highlights that cell in red.

  24. Vishwas says:

    If there are number of releatative items in column. Ex.
    A 1
    B 3
    A 5
    C 1
    D 3
    B 2
    I want to make column of from above data like

    • Hi Larry,

      The @ symbol is used in structured references (table references) to refer to cells in the same row where the formula is. Typically, the @ character is followed by the column name.

      For example, the following formula adds up numbers in the "South" and "West" columns of the current row in the table named "Regions":
      =SUM(Regions[@South], Regions[@West])

      For more information, please see How to use structured references in Excel tables.

  25. nilesh ghadi says:


  26. David says:

    Can you please help me with the formula regarding how to get the total number of males in a list containing both genders.

  27. Richard says:

    Hi im trying to understand what this formula means from a staff matrix training excel spreadsheet =IF(D11="Assistant Operator",IF(AND(I11=2,COUNTIF(J11:O11,2)>2),2,1),"")

    Thank you

  28. P Ramulu says:

    A2:A700 different names, IF A2="Balanagar", then B2="Balanagar Division",C2="Balanagar Zone",D2="Cyberabad",, how do I write

  29. Elijah Emmanuel says:

    I need a help on having the summary of my calculation on another sheet. That is, as I am working the the full details on one page, the summary of the work will automatically be calculating itself on the next sheet. Thanks...

  30. MAYUR SHINDE says:

    How to add number of every sheet in last sheet. example-
    sheet1 c5+sheet2 c5+sheet3 c5 = Total on fourth sheet

  31. mahesh says:

    want to deduct value of column 'g'items from column' h ' items total values and multiply with column 'k' values can u help for the same


    I need help in copying results from the next table with increasing numbers.
    For example
    Column b has the following:
    1. 20
    2. 30
    3. 40
    Then I need to transfer the info onto another sheet across a row
    A B C
    1. 20 30 40

  33. Arun Kumar H says:

    I need an assistance in function formula for CTC Calculator
    We calculate Basic salary on fixed monthly CTC at 40%, Hence if the monthly basic is above 15k, let the amount takes whatever it get calculated on 40% but if the monthly salary itself below 15k then whatever the amount is should get reflected in Basic salary itself not in any other component.
    Please do the needful

  34. Jose Raja says:

    I want to calculate TWO CELL also end of the calculation i want to add a TEXT (as a note)
    For Ex. :
    Key in info : =(A2-A3) Weeks
    want a result to be : 3 Weeks

    is it possible. pls answer me ASAP

  35. PRABHAT says:

    ATTAIN = +4
    WRONG = -1
    LEFT = 0
    KEY IF A AND B BOTH THEN 4 (FOUR OPTION A,B,C,D, GRACE) a formula for this

  36. k.shanmugam says:

    how to apply the number convert to text for example 12= twele and apply a1=112 but the solution b2= one hundred and twele

  37. Tin Myo Aung says:

    If E2 is under 2000 C7 should show 30%
    If E2 is between 2001 and 4000 C7 should show 40%
    If E2 is under 4001 and over C7 should show 50%
    Please help to get a formula for this

  38. Zaman says:

    Hello, I am trying to make a time sheet. Here is the example:
    Start time: 12:30 am
    Regular hours: 4.5 hours
    Extra hours: 40 minutes
    Break: 30 minutes if total hours more than 5 hours
    Finish Time: ??? I need the formula which should be 6:10 am as total hour more than 5.
    Total hours: 5.16 hours

    Thanks for your help.

  39. Waugh says:


  40. Waugh says:

    I want set up a spread sheet whereby i have a value on one cell and the percentage of that value in another cell,for example i have $1000 in cell B and in cell C i will want to have 25% of whatever value is in cell B(in this case $1000)


    Dear Team
    I want to know about the best techniques of the excel with formulas & functions.

    if you provide best techniques, i shall be obliged

  42. shravan says:

    if a C3 value is 4.65 then D3 should show 50%
    if a C3 value is between 4.20 and 4.65 then D3 should show 45%

    Please help to get a formula on this

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