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Using Basic Functions in Microsoft Excel

This tutorial introduces Excel functions, which are a little like templates for common formulas. There are many different types of functions. First, we will look at the SUM function. You will learn about using AutoComplete for entering formulas. We'll look at other basic common functions such as AVERAGE. We'll take a look at the Formulas tab introduced in the Ribbon.

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Formulas vs. Functions

To open the Insert Function dialog box, use the following procedure.

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

    Insert Function Tool

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


    Insert Function Dialogue Box

Using the SUM Function

Review how to use a SUM function to add the total for each category in the sample file, use the following procedure.

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

  3. AutoSum Tool on Ribbon

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

  5. Cell references are automatically selected

  6. 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.
  7. 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.

View Function Syntax in Formula Bar

Using AutoComplete

To use the AutoComplete feature, use the following procedure.

  1. Begin typing the SUM function. As soon as you type the Equals sign and the letter S, Excel displays a possible list of matching functions.

  2. Using AutoComplete feature

  3. To select the SUM Function from the list, double-click on the SUM function.
  4. Excel enters the function, but you must still enter the arguments. You can simply click on multiple cells, or click and drag to select a cell range. You can also type in the cell references.
  5. The SUM function

  6. Enter the final parenthesis mark to end the function.
  7. Press ENTER to enter the function in the cell.

Using Other Basic Excel Functions

Review how to use the AVERAGE function as an example of another function, use the following procedure.

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

  4. Average Function

  5. Select Average.
  6. Excel enters the function with the most likely cell references.

    Excel selects the most likley cells

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

  8. Editing the range in the average Function

  9. Press ENTER to complete the function.

Related Excel Lessons

Excel Interface
Starting Excel
Opening Workbooks
Data Entry in Excel
Making Selections in Excel
Adjusting Column Widths
Printing and Exiting MS Excel
Building Formulas
Editing and Copying Formulas

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