Top 10 Most Useful Excel Formulas

Top 10 Most Useful Excel Formulas

best excel formulas[Image Source: Trevor English]

Interesting Engineering has been bringing you some of the most helpful excel tips around, and now it's time to present the most useful formulas in the spreadsheet software. Excel is a valuable tool as it can do a lot of math automatically without the need for you to do any work. You're probably aware of some of the basic formulas like SUM and AVERAGE, but check out our list of the most helpful.


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 maybe determining if someone has paid, or in other database situations. AVERAGE does exactly what it sounds like and take the average of the numbers you input.


IF statements are super useful in a lot of situations, and this function allows you to output text if a case is valid, or false. For example, you could write =IF(A1>A2, "GOOD", "BAD"), where A1>A2 is the case, "GOOD" is the output if true and "BAD is the output if false.


These functions are a combination of the SUM, COUNT, AVERAGE functions with the attachment to IF statements. All of these functions are structured the same way, being =FUNCTION(range, criteria, function range). So for 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 some complex spreadsheets.


This function allows you to search for something in left most column of a spreadsheet and return it as a value. An example of how to use this would be as follows: =VLOOKUP(lookup value, table being searched, index number, sorting identifier). The downside to this function is it requires the information being searched to be in the leftmost column, but don't worry, we haver 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 is not only a fantastic word to say, but it is also a useful function 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.


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.


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 it on with another comma.


PROPER is useful when your database has a lot of oddly formatted text that looks jumbled 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".


This isn't technically a formula, but it is an incredibly useful tool that is built right into Excel. If you go to 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 before, but why not let Excel do the hard work.


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.

What are some of your favorite, most useful Excel Formulas? Help everyone out by letting us know in the comments. 

SEE ALSO: Top 40 of the Best Excel Shortcuts You Need to Know

Written by Trevor English


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