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Top 10 Most Useful Excel Formulas

Excel is a valuable tool, be sure to get the most out of it with these formulas.

Top 10 Most Useful Excel Formulas
Onat Benli

If you're on the lookout for an Excel cheatsheet to help you speed up your spreadsheet game, then this article is for you. We've compiled 10 of the most useful Excel formulas for many users, from beginner to expert.

Excel is a valuable tool, as it can do a lot of math automatically, without the need for you to do any work. You might be familiar with some of the basic formulas, like SUM and AVERAGE, in that vein, our list will expand your knowledge of Excel with several helpful formulas.

SUM, COUNT, AVERAGE 

SUM allows you to sum any number of columns or rows by selecting them or typing them in, for example, =SUM(A1:A8) would sum all values in between A1 and A8 and so on. COUNT counts the number of cells in an array that have a number value in them. This would be useful for determining if someone has paid a bill, or in other database situations, for example. AVERAGE does exactly what it sounds like, and takes the average of the numbers you input.

IF STATEMENTS

IF statements are super useful in a lot of situations. This function allows you to output text if a case is either valid or false. For example, you could write =IF(A1>A2, "GOOD", "BAD"), where A1>A2 is the case, "GOOD" if the output is true and "BAD" is the output if false. Or, =IF(C2>B2, ”Over Budget”, ”Within Budget”); where the IF function is saying IF (C2 Is Greater Than B2, then return “Over Budget”, otherwise return “Within Budget”).

SUMIF, COUNTIF, AVERAGEIF

These functions in Excel are a combination of the SUM, COUNT, AVERAGE functions and IF statements. All of these functions are structured the same way, being =FUNCTION(range, criteria, function range). So in SUM, you could input =SUM(A1:A15, "GOOD", B1:B13). This would add B1 through B13 if the values of A1 through A15 all said GOOD. You may be starting to see how many of these formulas can be applied on top of each other to create more complex spreadsheets and actions.

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VLOOKUP

This stands for 'Vertical Lookup'. It is a function that makes Excel search for a certain value in a column (the so-called 'table array'), in order to return a value from a different column in the same row. The syntax for this would be as follows: =VLOOKUP(lookup value, range, column number, false or true)

RELATED: TOP 49 OF THE BEST EXCEL SHORTCUTS THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The downside to this function is it requires the information being searched to be in the leftmost column, but don't worry, we have a solution further down in this list! This function is a little more complicated than this article will allow for, so you can read an in-depth explanation of how it works here.

CONCATENATE

Concatenate is not only a fantastic word to say, but it is also a useful spreadsheet formula if you need to combine data into one cell. Say for example you had a first and last name, in cells A1 and A2 respectively. You would type =CONCATENATE(A1 , " " , B2), which would combine the names into one cell, with the " " adding a space in between.

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MAX & MIN

These functions are very simple, just type in the column or row of numbers you want to search, following the function, and it will output the MAX or MIN depending on the function you use. For example, =MAX(A1:A10) would output the maximum numerical value in those rows.

AND

This is another logical function in Excel, and it will check if certain things are true or false. For example, =AND(A1="GOOD", B2>10) would output TRUE if A1 is GOOD and the value of B2 is greater than 10. You can have it check more values than two as well, simply add them on with another comma.

PROPER

PROPER is useful when your database has a lot of oddly formatted text that looks jumbled, for example, with capitalizations in the wrong place. If cell A1 said "intErestIng EnginEEring is greaT", you could type =PROPER(A1) and it would output "Interesting Engineering is Great".

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CONDITIONAL FORMATTING

This isn't technically a formula, but it is an incredibly useful tool that is built right into Excel. If you go Home –> Styles –> Conditional formatting, you can select many options that will give outputs if certain things are true. You can do a lot of this with the formulas mentioned here, but why not let Excel do the hard work.

INDEX + MATCH

This combination of functions allows you to work around VLOOKUP's annoying limitations. By combining these functions like this, =INDEX(list of values, MATCH(what you want to lookup, lookup column, sorting identifier)), you can search a whole spreadsheet for values instead of being forced to only search the left-most column.

Want to go even deeper? Don't miss our Excel function list to learn some more.

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Correction: This article has been updated. In an earlier article, we had inadvertently written B2 instead of A2 when describing the syntax for CONCATENATE. IE regrets this error.

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