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.

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.

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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