What the Function?

How many of these do you know?

There are nearly 500 functions in Excel today, and while some are more relevant to certain industries than others, many are used on a daily basis by the average Excel user. Let’s take a look at a handful of the more common formulas.



This function tells Excel to carry out basic arithmetic. It is used to add together the numbers in two cells (let’s say A2 and B2), and place the value in a third (let’s use C2). To do this, enter =SUM into C2, click the =SUM entry in the pop-up that appears, Ctrl + Click in cell A2 and B2 to highlight both, then hit Enter.


To find the average of a set of number, carry out this formula as you would the SUM formula. You need to get the average of the numbers in cells A2 through A6, so enter =AVERAGE(A2:A6) in a blank cell, call it A14, to get the average.


If you need to find the smallest number in a range of cells, MIN can help you do that. Using =MIN(B3:B39), you will be given the smallest number in that range of cells.


The opposite of MIN is MAX. Use this formula to find the largest number in a range of cells.


To find the number of cells in a range that contain numbers only in a mix of symbols and text, use COUNT to help. Example: =COUNT(A5:50) will tell you between cells 5 and 50, how many contain numbers.


Count the number of characters in a single cell, including spaces, with LEN.


Let’s say you’re eager to know how many days until it’s your birthday! Put today’s date in a cell (A2), then your birthday this year in the cell next to it (A3). Use =DAYS(A2, A3) to get the answer.


While these just skim the surface of what Excel is capable of, it should give you a good start to move from beginner to intermediate. Read more short and sweet Excel tips and tricks on our blog.