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Excel 2003 for Starters: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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Formula Shortcuts

So far, you've seen how to build a formula by typing it in manually. That's a great way to start out, because it helps you to understand the basics of formula writing. But writing formulas by hand is a drag; plus, it's easy to type in the wrong cell address. For example, if you type A2 instead of A3, you can end up with incorrect data, and you won't necessarily notice your mistake right away. And what about writing formulas for really basic math functions, like calculating the average of a column of numbers? There's no sense in reinventing the wheel, so Excel offers a bunch of canned functions you can use to build your formulas.

As you become more comfortable with formulas, you can start taking advantage of the formula tools Excel gives you—like point-and-click formula creation and the Insert Function button—to speed up your formula writing and reduce your mistakes. You'll learn about these features in the following sections.

Point-and-Click Formula Creation

Instead of entering a formula by typing it out letter by letter, Excel lets you create formulas by clicking the cells you want to use. For example, here's a simple formula that totals the numbers in two cells:

	=A1+A2

To build this formula by clicking, just follow these steps:

  1. Move to the cell where you want to enter the formula.

    This cell is where the result of your formula's calculation appears. While you can pick any cell on the worksheet, A3 works nicely because it's directly below the two cells you're adding. ...

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