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Excel 2003: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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Groups of Numbers

A common spreadsheet task is distilling a few important pieces of information out of several pages of data. For example, say you want to hunt through a column looking for minimums and maximums, in order to find the lowest-priced product or best sales quarter. Or maybe you want to calculate averages, means, and percentile rankings to help grade a class of students. In either case, Excel provides a number of useful functions. Most of these are part of the Statistical group, although the SUM( ) function is actually part of the Math & Trig group.

SUM( ): Summing Up Numbers

Almost every Excel program in existence has been called on at least once to do the same thing: add a group of numbers. This task falls to the wildly popular SUM( ) function, which simply adds everything in it. The SUM( ) function takes up to 30 parameters, each of which can be a single cell reference or a range of cells.

Tip

You can specify more than 30 cell references by adding extra parentheses to create subgroups, like so: =SUM((A1,A2),(A3,A4)). This formula uses the power of ranges. Even though it has the effect of adding four cells' values, it's really adding two ranges, each with two distinct cells. Excel considers each range as a single argument.

Here's a SUM( ) formula that adds two cells:

=SUM(A1,A2)

And here's a SUM( ) formula that adds the range of 11 cells from A2 to A12:

=SUM(A2:A12)

And here's a SUM( ) formula that adds a range of cells along with a separately referenced cell, and two literal ...

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