If you have ever taken a look at a formula in Excel, it can be very intimidating. And Microsoft’s terminology doesn’t make understanding them any easier. But here’s a way to think about formulas that will make them easier to understand.
A formula is nothing more than an equation. If you think back to elementary school, you’ll remember an equation looking like this: 1+1=2. The only problem with this is that Excel doesn’t know how to interpret it. It doesn’t know whether to display or calculate it. So what we must do is talk Excel’s language. Simply, we’ll tell Excel that this cell equals 1+1 or =1+1. Now Excel looks at it and says “Oh, this cell equals 1+1; you want me to calculate this.” And it displays 2. That’s it. Really.
We always start a formula with an equal sign so that we shift Excel from display mode into calculate mode. And it helps if you remember that “this cell equals” in order to not forget the equal sign.
Now that you understand the basics of “Excel talk”, go out there and create some formulas!