Bottom Line: Learn about the Top 10 basic Excel formulas you have to know if you are an Excel beginner or if you want to refresh your Excel knowledge. With these basic functions you will be able to do a variety of basic calculations and analysis tasks.
Skill Level: Basic
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Why to learn these Basic Excel Functions and Formulas
Functions and Formulas are the backbone of your Excel skills. If you are comfortable in using just a few powerful functions and formulas you are already ahead of many people around you. That is a good reason to gain some knowledge about some basic functions and formulas you should know for your everyday tasks. And if you want to get more detailed knowledge or expand your knowledge to more advanced Excel functions and formulas, check out our well-structured and Filterable Database with all existing Excel Functions.
Info: Microsoft continuously updates and expands its native set of Excel formulas and functions. They constantly add new and improved functions like the powerful XLOOKUP function. These updates are only available in the latest version of Excel (included in Microsoft 365), so if you still use an older version we recommend to upgrade your Excel version to have the complete tool set.
The Difference between an Excel Function and Formula
You may ask yourself, what is the difference between a function and a formula in Excel? Well, that is quite simple. A function is a piece of code designed to calculate certain values. A formula on the other hand can contain values, references to cells, and functions. So that means, if you are calculating something in Excel you use formulas and use functions within your formulas.
Now, let’s have a look at the ten most fundamental functions to create powerful formulas in Excel.
1. SUM Function
The Excel SUM function returns the sum of all inserted values. For the input, you can combine any sort of numerical values, e.g. numbers, cell references, ranges or arrays.
Syntax: SUM (number1, [number2], [number3], …)
2. AVERAGE Function
The Excel AVERAGE function returns the average of all inserted values. For the input, you can combine any sort of numerical values, e.g. numbers, cell references, ranges or arrays.
Syntax: AVERAGE (number1, [number2], [number3], …)
3. IF Function
The Excel IF function is the most essential function in Excel for logical tests. You can define the value that is returned by this function if the result of the logical test is TRUE and the value that is returned if the result is FALSE.
If you want to test more than one condition, you can simply nest multiple IF functions.
Syntax: IF (logical_test, [value_if_true], [value_if_false])
4. MIN & MAX Function
The Excel MIN function returns the smallest numeric value in a range of values. Accordingly, the Excel MAX function returns the biggest numeric value in a range of values. Both function only consider numeric values. Empty cells, logical or text values will be ignored.
Syntax: MIN (number1, [number2], …) | MAX (number1, [number2], …)
5. TRIM Function
The Excel TRIM function removes the leading and trailing spaces from a given text. Additionally, it removes unnecessary spaces between words.
Syntax: TRIM (text)
6. CONCATENATE Function
The Excel CONCATENATE function joins two or more text items together.
Syntax: CONCATENATE (text1, [text2], …)
7. COUNT Function
The Excel COUNT function counts the number of cells containing numbers.
Syntax: COUNT (value1, [value2], …)
8. COUNTA Function
The Excel COUNTA function counts the number of cells containing numbers, text, logical values, error values, and empty text. Empty cells will be ignored.
Syntax: COUNTA (value1, [value2], …)
9. COUNTIF Function
The Excel COUNTIF function counts the number of cells meeting a specific criteria. It supports all sorts of logical operators and wildcards (*,?) for partial matching.
Syntax: COUNTIF (range, criteria)
10. SUMIF Function
The Excel SUMIF function returns the sum of all cells meeting a specific criteria. It supports all sorts of logical operators and wildcards (*,?) for partial matching. If the range for the criteria check and the sum range are not the same, the sum range can be provided as a third optional parameter.
Syntax: SUMIF (range, criteria, [sum_range])
Once you have these functions in your repertoire, you can easily handle any basic task in Excel. Applying and combining these functions allows you to create really powerful formulas for quick and valuable insights into any sort of data.
We recommend to take a look at our filterable Functions Database in our lookup knowledge section. There you are able to filter all existing Excel functions by Relevance, Category, and Minimum Required Office Version.