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Writing Equations in Excel


Using an Excel worksheet

Using Equations

Use this guide to help create equations in Microsoft Excel. Learn about averages, functions, and writing your own equations.

Step 1 - Preparing to enter an equation - You are ready to build your own function (an equation). There is a single keystroke that informs Excel of your intention. Press the equal key (=). If you can write the equation, Excel can perform the calculation. This module will deal with four simple functions; add, subtract, multiply and divide.

Step 2 - Writing an addition equation - If you were to state the process for adding the numbers in column B it would be "six plus three." The equation could be written exactly like that ( =6+3 ) and Excel would display the expected answer, 9. However that equation would be useless if the numbers in either B2 or B3 were changed. When writing your own equation, use cell addresses.


When writing the equation, clicking in cell B2 displays B2 in the equation. If you have written the equation correctly you may accept it by pressing the Enter/Return key or by clicking on the green check mark. If you change your mind, click on the red X to cancel the operation.

Step 3. Writing other simple functions - Symbols for the four basic mathematical functions are:

  • addition +
  • subtraction -
  • multiplication *
  • division /

Step 4. Task - Prepare a worksheet with the data displayed under Step 1. Enter the proper equation under each set of two numbers. Do not look at step 5.

No! Don't look yet! :-)

Step 5. Compare - Compare your results to those shown below:

This was not a math quiz, it was an equation writing quiz. If something was unclear ask someone near you, ask your teacher, then ask me .

Step 6. Combining functions - If you can write the equation, Excel can perform the math. To illustrate this we will write an equation which will add several numbers, divide to get an average, and then take a percentage of that number to provide a weighted component of an equation used to average grades.

Scenario: Bill took three tests scoring 88, 76, and 58. The average of his tests counts as half of Bill's grade. What number value has Bill achieved toward his term grade?

Next Module: Worksheet Basics - Percentage and Absolute Cell Reference

Internet4classrooms is a collaborative effort by Susan Brooks and Bill Byles.




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