Excel Guides

Starting Out With Formulas in Excel

Excel is a powerful tool that you can use to perform all sorts of calculations. Formulas are one of the most important features in Excel, and allow you to perform mathematical operations on your data. In this article, we'll show you how to get started with formulas in Excel.

Creating a Formula

To create a formula, simply type an equal sign (=) into a cell, followed by the numbers and/or operators that you want to use in the calculation. For example, to add up the values in cells A1 and A2, you would type the following formula into cell A3:


Once you've typed in the formula, press Enter or Return on your keyboard to calculate the result. In our example, if the value in cell A1 is 1 and the value in cell A2 is 2, then the result in cell A3 would be 3.

Using Cell References

In our example above, we hard-coded the values that we wanted to use in our calculation by typing them directly into the formula. However, most of the time you'll want to use cell references, which refer to specific cells in your worksheet. Cell references are especially useful when working with large amounts of data.

To use a cell reference in a formula, simply type the cell address (e.g., A1, B5) instead of the value. For example, if we wanted to add up the values in cells A1 through A5, we could use the following formula:


Note: The SUM() function is a built-in function in Excel that calculates the sum of a range of values. There are many other built-in functions that you can use in your formulas; we'll cover some of them later on.

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