If you have not used Excel before, you will soon discover that it is not just a grid in which you enter numbers into columns and rows. Of course, you can use Excel to calculate the totals of a column or a row of numbers, but you can also calculate the payment of a mortgage, solve mathematical or engineering problems, or find the most optimistic hypothesis depending on the variables you enter.

Excel performs these operations using formulas in cells. A formula performs calculations or other actions with the data in your spreadsheet. A formula always starts with an equal sign (=), which can be followed by numbers, mathematical operators (such as + or – to add or subtract) and integrated functions of Excel, which can extend the power of a formula.

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For example, the following formula multiplies 2 by 3 and then adds 5 to the result to give the answer, 11.

**= 2 * 3 + 5**

The following is a sample of the types of formulas that can be written to a spreadsheet.

**= A1 + A2 + A3**Adds the values of cells A1, A2 and A3.**= SUM (A1: A10)**. Use the SUM function to return the sum of the values from A1 to A10.**= TODAY ()**. Returns the current date.**= MAYUSC (“hello”)**Convert the text “hello” to “hello” using the function MAYUSC .**= SI (A1> 0)**. Use the SI function to test cell A1 and determine if it contains a value greater than 0.