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What’s the Deal With Functions?
You might be familiar with Microsoft Excel as the spreadsheet component of Microsoft Office; you might recognize the icon but not know what it does. Alternatively, you might use Excel regularly, but not be totally aware of the power that the application can wield over any set of numbers.
Excel features various functions which are basically automated formulas. These are used to make changes to the numbers you are working with, providing shortcuts and comprehensive solutions, depending on what you are trying to achieve.
Basically, functions allow you to get the results you want from Excel, enabling you to use it as a tool for recording figures and building charts, keeping track of your finances, even for creating quizzes!
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Functions in Excel are basically pre-programmed, easy-to-use tools that can be called as part of a formula or invoked on their own. They are easy to use and have many uses that can make the Excel experience far simpler than it is if you don’t know how to use them.
Among the tricks that you can perform with functions are adding the current date and time to a spreadsheet and isolating data separated by non-numerical characters. If you have ever wanted to subtract dates to establish a genuine number of days between them, or calculate your age or sort data, there are functions that can be used to achieve all these tasks.
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Excel LOOKUP Functions
One of the most powerful functions if you have a table of data in your Excel file is LOOKUP and its variants VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP. As you might guess from the title of these functions, they can be used to search an array of data for a particular value (based on pre-determined parameters), and then pull this out for you to then manipulate.
There are so many uses for these functions that they are too great to be listed here; as an example I once used the VLOOKUP function on a table of salary figures to establish the amount of tax that would be paid for a list of employees. While it might sound complicated, a LOOKUP function is easy to implement.
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Key Excel Functions
Although a powerful and popular function, VLOOKUP is just one of a large number of Excel tools that you might use.
For instance, you might be searching for a particular value within a value in a cell, and this might be where you decide to use the TRIM function. Similarly, you might employ LEFT, RIGHT and MID functions on a similarly basis.
There are various numerical functions such as AVERAGE that you can call upon, or you might be looking for duplicates within the values on your spreadsheet, in which case you would call the MATCH function.
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IF Functions in Excel
You cannot build any conditional statement in Excel without using the IF function. Designed to make it easy for you to create a formula that has two or more conditions, IF can be used for many purposes, most commonly to display a result that you can easily identify.
A conditional statement might be best described as: If( condition, value_if_true, value_if_false ). These can be used to resolve a variety of problems, and they can be built up to feature multiple conditions by nesting IF functions.
You might even say: if(understand conditional statements, achieve advanced use of Excel, failure)!
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