Many errors in Excel formulas are caused by a failure to fully understand the order in which mathematical operators are evaluated.
When you are using creating complex Excel formulas, it is easy to quickly become confused and lose count of brackets.
One way to clarify your Excel formulas is to insert line breaks between different parts of a formula. For example, the following formula is difficult to follow:
However, if line breaks are inserted between each of the 'if' functions, the whole formula becomes much clearer:
|if(A1>2,"Low","Very Low") ) ) )|
If you want to enter a range of cells into a formula, you can use the mouse to select the range of cells that you want to enter.
However, if the range of cells that you want to select is large, it may be useful to use the following keyboard shortcuts.
|CTRL - Left Mouse Button||-||I.e. to select more than one cell (or range), first use the mouse to select on the first cell (or range), then press the CTRL key and use the mouse to select further cells or ranges.|
|SHIFT - Left Mouse Button||-||I.e. to select a range, first use the left mouse key to click on a cell (or row or column) at the start of the range, then press the Shift key and select the cell at the end of the range.|
|SHIFT ↓||-||Moves the current selected range down a row.|
|SHIFT ↑||-||Moves the current selected range up a row.|
|SHIFT →||-||Moves the current selected range right by one column.|
|SHIFT ←||-||Moves the current selected range left by one column.|
|CTRL-SHIFT ↓||-||Selects all cells below the current selection, up to the edge of the current data region.|
|CTRL-SHIFT ↑||-||Selects all cells above the current selection, up to the edge of the current data region.|
|CTRL-SHIFT →||-||Selects all cells to the right of the current selection, up to the edge of the current data region.|
|CTRL-SHIFT ←||-||Selects all cells to the left of the current selection, up to the edge of the current data region.|
If you type a simple reference in your cell (eg. A1) and then decide you want to change this to be a relative reference, while your cell is still in edit mode, simply press F4.
(For further information on relative and absolute references, see the Excel Cell References page).
The fill handle is the tiny square on the bottom right of a selected cell or selected cell range. Use this to copy a function to other rows by either:
If you want to quickly sum the contents of a column, select the cell immediately below the column and type ALT + =
If you want to display all the formulas in your current worksheet, the easiest way to do this is through the keyboard combination:
I.e. press the control key, and while holding this down, press the ` key.
Note that, on many keyboards, the ` key is at the top left of the keyboard, next to the number 1.
To hide the formulas again, simply repeat the same key combination (i.e. press CTRL-`).
By default, Excel will recalculate the formulas on your spreadsheet every time you make a change to any of the cells that the formulas depend on. This is useful, as it means that your spreadsheet is always up-to-date.
However, if you are working with large amounts of data, this recalculation can take several seconds. In this case, it is not practical to allow the spreadsheet to freeze while it updates its formulas, every time you enter a new value - you can quickly end up in the position where you simply cannot continue to work on the spreadsheet.
If you find yourself in this position, you may want to 'switch off' Excel's Automatic formula updates while you are working on your spreadsheet and then turn them back on again later.
Warning: If you do switch off the Automatic calculation option, make sure you remember to switch it back on again afterwards, or there is a risk that you will become very confused when your formulas fail to update!!
The option to activate or deactivate Excel Automatic cell calculation is located in different places, in different versions of Excel:
In Current Versions of Excel (Excel 2010 and later):
In Excel 2007:
In Excel 2003:
Further formula tips are provided on the Microsoft Office Support website.