Formulas explained

As a marketer, I’ve used Excel frequently. It's an excellent tool for managing and analyzing data. Excel makes it easier than ever to work with large data sets, but sometimes the sheer volume of data can be overwhelming. That’s where Excel formulas come in handy. Understanding formulas can quickly turn you into an Excel wizard. In this article, I’ll explain some of my favorite formulas to use, all while mixing in a touch of humor and enthusiasm.

This formula is the most basic and essential formula in Excel: SUM(). If you're unfamiliar, the SUM() function adds up a range of cells. Suppose I wanted to see the total revenue earned in a specific period, from Cell A1 to A10. I’d place the formula in Cell A11 and write:

=SUM(A1:A10)

And voila, I’d have my total revenue for that period! Here’s a pro-tip, you can start typing in the formula, and Excel will give you a suggestion for the correct syntax. It saves time and reduces the potential for errors. Plus, Formulas are reusable, so once you’ve written them, they'll remain saved for future use.

The IF statement comes in handy when you want to specify conditions in Excel. It's like saying, "If this happens, then do this." For example, an easy way to know how much revenue your company generated from customer x would be something like this:

=IF(A2="x",SUM(B2:B10),0)

What we’ve done is read in Cell A2 if it contains “x”, then we’d sum all the revenue from Cells B2 to B10. If not, the formula would result in a zero. These statements can get complicated as it can include "else" clauses, nested IFs, and multiple variables, but for simple scenarios like this, it’s great to use.

I bet you’ve never seen this formula before! Of course, we divide numbers all the time, but DIVIDE() comes in handy when you want to avoid errors when dividing by zero. It happens more often than you think, especially when you're working with raw data.

Here’s how DIVIDE() works:

=DIVIDE(10,0)

This will result in an error, because you can't divide a number by zero. But, when you add a third argument, which is what you want the formula to return after encountering an error, the formula changes entirely:

=DIVIDE(10,0,"NA")

Now, instead of returning an error, it returns the word “NA.” Another fantastic feature of DIVIDE() is that it helps you spot where you need cleaning up in your data. When you see “NA” instead of a number, it’s time to explore why that is.

Now, let's talk about TEXT(), which leaves its mark all over our daily lives. Labels, Ids, dates, percentages, you name it. Most of the time, we receive information in a table or data set and want to present it nicely. This is where TEXT() comes in handy. Let's say you have a date in Cell A1 when you want to add the corresponding month. If the date is formatted like 01-23-2022, then you can use the following formula:

=TEXT(A1,"mmmm")

“mmmm” denotes the month in full form format. To get the month in a short form, like “Jan," for January, it would look like this:

=TEXT(A1,"mmm")

It's effortless to use, and you can dictate what you want the result to be. This is an excellent trick for anyone who works in data analysis but also manages design or presentations.

By now, you're probably an Excel wizard! OK, maybe not, but I hope that this has shown you how Excel formulas can simplify your life and your work. Whether you're starting with SUM() or working with TEXT(), the sky’s the limit with Excel’s functions. I hope this has been useful to you and that you incorporate these formulas into your work soon. Happy Exceling!