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...easy way to learn formulas for spreadsheets?

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Question by missy
Submitted on 10/15/2003
Related FAQ: comp.apps.spreadsheets FAQ
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Is there an easy way to learn formulas for spreadsheets?

Answer by rahul aggarwal
Submitted on 3/4/2005
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Answer by Des Howell
Submitted on 10/12/2006
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Is there an easy way to learn formulas for spreadsheets?

The formulas in spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel fall into two overlapping groups:
a) Formulas you construct yourself using basic mathematical and logical operations, and
b) Functions or ready-made formulas containing hidden calculations.

To learn to use any formulas properly you must first have some understanding of the problem situation and its mathematical, logical or statistical implications. e.g. Travel that constantly results in doubling the distance traveled when the time taken is doubled, not only implies a constant speed. It also implies a constant ratio i.e. distance divided by time and a constant rate, e.g. miles per hour. The formulas you use must model the real situation.

Simple formulas are easy to construct in spreadsheets by typing "=", then clicking on the cells containing the relevant numbers while typing brackets and the operators (+, -, * , /, etc) in appropriate places. Note that the ordinary BODMAS rules (Brackets first, etc) apply.

To learn to use the inbuilt functions, the best thing to do is to find examples of the simplest problems you can handle that involve the equivalent formulas. Practice in translating these into spreadsheets by inserting functions will help you recall these functions when you need them later.

Search on the Internet for tips by spreadsheet experts relating to problems that interest you. Conversely, do searches using the name of a puzzling function. This may reveal a practical use of the more obscure functions. Studying these examples should make more sense to you than the Help notes given in your program.


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