How to create formulas in Excel

One of the most powerful features in Excel is the ability to use formulas to calculate numerical information. Just like a calculator, Excel can add, subtract, multiply, and divide. In this lesson, we’ll show you how to use cell references to create simple formulas.

Watch the video below to learn how to create formulas in Excel.

math operator
Excel uses standard operators for formulas, such as the plus sign ( + ) for addition, the minus sign ( – ) for subtraction, the asterisk ( * ) for multiplication, the forward slash ( / ) for division, and the caret ( ^ ) for exponents.

Illustration of math operators

All formulas in Excel must start with an equal sign ( = ). This is because the cell contains or equals the formula and its calculated value.

Understanding cell references

While you can manually create simple formulas (such as =2+2 or =5*5) in Excel, most of the time you will use cell addresses to create formulas. This is called making a cell reference. Using cell references will ensure that your formulas are always accurate because you can change the value of the referenced cell without rewriting the formula.

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