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# Microsoft Excel - Formula Basics

This article contains information on how to get started using formulas and functions in Excel.

### The parts of an Excel formula

A formula can also contain any or all of the following: functions, references, operators, and constants.

**Parts of a formula**

**Functions**: The PI() function returns the value of pi: 3.142...**References**: A2 returns the value in cell A2.**Constants**: Numbers or text values entered directly into a formula, such as 2.**Operators**: The ^ (caret) operator raises a number to a power, and the * (asterisk) operator multiplies numbers.

### Create a formula that refers to values in other cells

- Select a cell.
- Type the
**equal sign =.**Note: Formulas in Excel always begin with the equal sign. - Select a cell or type its address in the selected cell.
- Enter an
**Operator**. For example, – for subtraction. - Select the next cell, or type its address in the selected cell. next cell
- Press
**Enter**. The result of the calculation appears in the cell with the formula.

### See a formula

- When a formula is entered into a cell, it also appears in the
**Formula**bar. - To see a formula, select a cell, and it will appear in the formula bar.

### Enter a formula that contains a built-in function

- Select an empty cell.
- Type an
**equal sign = a**nd then type a function. For example, =SUM for getting the total sales. - Type an
*opening parenthesis (*. - Select the range of cells, and then type a
*closing parenthesis)*. - Press
**Enter**to get the result.

### See Also:

**Excel Formulas tutorial workbook**- The formulas tutorial workbook is a downloadable/interactive workbook that will walk you through the most commonly used formulas in Excel, including Sum, Count, Vlookup and more.