Microsoft Excel Top Essential Functions

Microsoft Excel is a program that uses spreadsheets to organize data and numbers with functions and formulas. Its analysis is common around the world and is used by businesses,

Microsoft Excel Top Essential Functions

Over the past decade, there has been a wave of innovative big data software designed to manipulate, analyze, and visualize data. Yet, three decades on, Microsoft Excel remains the de facto solution for business reports for most progressive organizations. In this post, we recap a recent webinar on the topic of Microsoft Excel’s top essential functions. But before we get into it, let’s briefly look at what Microsoft Excel is.

What Is Microsoft Excel?

Microsoft Excel is a program that uses spreadsheets to organize data and numbers with functions and formulas. Its analysis is common around the world and is used by businesses, both big and small, to perform data and financial analysis. The main uses of Excel include data entry, data management, task management, charting and graphing, accounting, financial analysis, among other tasks.

Microsoft Excel Function Basics

Functions are predicted formulas used in Excel. They eliminate the laborious manual entry of formulas. Typically, Excel functions begin with an equal sign. For instance: =SUM(B1:B5). This function sums up the values between B1 and B5.

There are basically five ways of building functions using Excel. They are:

  • Direct Manual Entry: Typing a function in the formula bar or in a cell is the most straightforward way of inserting basic excel functions. This usually starts by typing an equal sign followed by the name of an Excel function.
  • Function Library (formula tab): A great place to explore functions is in the Function Library on the Formula tab. Here, you can search and select Excel Functions based on the task you want to complete.
  • Insert Function: Suppose you want full control of your functions; you can use the Excel insert function in the Function dialogue box. To accomplish this, go to the Formulas tab and select the menu labeled Insert Function. From there, you can choose whichever function you need.
  • Formula AutoComplete: To minimize the syntax and typing errors, you can create and edit formulas with Formula AutoComplete. Upon beginning to type, Excel will display a dynamic drop-down menu listing all valid functions that match the text string that you type.
  • Shortcuts: There are different shortcuts that you can use to insert various excel functions.

Understanding Cell References

A cell reference is a combination of a column letter and a row that identifies a cell on a worksheet. For instance, A2 refers to a cell at the intersection of column A and row 2. When used in a formula, cell reference helps Excel find the values that the formula should calculate. There are various types of Excel References, namely:

  • Relative: These cell references adjust themselves when the cell is copied. They are useful when you want to create a formula for a range of cells, and the formula needs to refer to a relative reference cell.
  • Absolute: Unlike relative cell references, absolute cell references don’t change when you copy a formula on other cells. Absolute cell references usually have dollar signs in front of them. $D2 is an example of an absolute cell reference.
  • Circular: These reference cells are created when an Excel formula refers back to its own cell directly or indirectly.

Excel Range Names

Excel range names are typically used to identify cell references, formula results, or values. They are typically used to prevent hard-coded values from appearing in formulas. They also make formulas clearer in general. Some of the key benefits of Excel range names include:

  • They make formulas easy to read.
  • They make formulas portable and reusable.
  • They can be used for navigation.
  • They can be used for data validation.
  • They work well in hyperlinks.

Excel Data Analysis

Excel holds data points in each cell. It organizes raw data into a readable format, thereby making it easier to extract actionable data. Some of the analysis functions used include COUNTA, IF, SUMIFS, AVERAGEIFS, and IFERROR.

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