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Get to know Excel: Enter formulas

Using the AutoSum button

Callout 1 Select cell B7 and then click the AutoSum button.
Callout 2 A color marquee surrounds the cells in the formula, and the formula appears in cell B7.
Callout 3 Press ENTER to display the result in cell B7.
Callout 4 Select cell B7 to display the formula in the formula bar.

To add up the total of expenses for January, you wouldn't have to type all those values again. Instead you could use a prewritten formula, called a function.

You could get the January total by selecting cell B7, then clicking AutoSum Button image on the Standard toolbar. This enters the SUM function, which adds up all the values in a range of cells. To save time, use the function whenever you have more than a few values to add up, so that you don't have to type the formula.

Pressing ENTER displays the SUM function result 95.94 in cell B7. The formula =SUM(B3:B6) appears in the formula bar whenever cell B7 is selected.

B3:B6 is the information, called the argument, that tells the SUM function what to add. By using a cell reference (B3:B6) instead of the values in those cells, Excel can automatically update results if values change later on. The colon (:) in B3:B6 indicates a cell range in column B, rows 3 through 6. The parentheses are required to separate the argument from the function.

The next two lessons explain cell references and functions in more detail.

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