12 Basic Excel Functions You Should Learn

12 Basic Excel Functions -magoosh

If you are just starting out with Excel, it can be a daunting task to figure out which of the hundreds of Excel functions you should learn first. Here’s a list of 12 basic Excel functions that will give you a great head start.

To see these Excel functions in action, check out our Excel Lesson Videos.

Basic Excel Functions #1: SUM()

What this function does: Adds all the numbers in a range of cells.

Usage: =SUM(number1, [number2], …)

Example(s):
=SUM(12,65,193,54) [Result: 324]
=SUM(A1:D1)

Basic Excel Functions #2: AVERAGE()

What this function does: Returns the average (arithmetic mean) of its arguments, which can be numbers or names, arrays, or references that contain numbers.

Usage: =AVERAGE(number1, [number2], …)

Example(s):
=AVERAGE(95,87,61,94,88,75) [Result: 83.33333]
=AVERAGE(A1:C10)

Basic Excel Functions #3: LEN()

What this function does: Returns the number of characters in a text string.

Usage: =LEN(text)

Example(s):
=LEN(“Hello”) [Result: 5]
=LEN(A1)

Basic Excel Functions #4: TRIM()

What this function does: Removes all spaces from a text string except for single spaces between words.

Usage: =TRIM(text)

Example(s):
=TRIM(”  Remove  extra   spaces from this  text.”) [Result: Remove extra spaces from this text.]
=TRIM(A1)

Basic Excel Functions #5: RAND()

What this function does: Returns a random number greater than or equal to 0 and less than 1, evenly distributed (changes on recalculation).

Usage: =RAND()

Example(s):
=RAND()

Note: If you want a different range for your random number, multiply the result by 10, 100, 1000, etc. or use the RANDBETWEEN function.

Basic Excel Functions #6: NOW()

What this function does: Returns the current date and time formatted as date and time.

Usage: =NOW()

Example(s):
=NOW()

Note: Use Excel’s built-in number formats to format the date and time produced by the NOW function to your desired format.

Basic Excel Functions #7: IF()

What this function does: Checks whether a condition is met, and returns one value if TRUE, and another value if FALSE.

Usage: =IF(logical_test, [value_if_true], [value_if_false])

Example(s):
=IF(10>2,”YES”,”NO”) [Result: YES]
=IF(2>10,”YES”,”NO”) [Result: NO]
=IF(A1>B1,”YES”,”NO”)

Basic Excel Functions #8: COUNT()

What this function does: Counts the number of cells in a range that contain numbers.

Usage: =COUNT(number1, [number2], …)

Example(s):
=COUNT(10,”ABC”,5) [Result: 2]
=COUNT(A1:C10)

Basic Excel Functions #9: LEFT()

What this function does: Returns the specified number of characters from the start of a text string.

Usage: =LEFT(text, [num_chars])

Example(s):
=LEFT(“Open Sesame”,4) [Result: Open]
=LEFT(A1)

Basic Excel Functions #10: RIGHT()

What this function does: Returns the specified number of characters from the end of a text string.

Usage: =RIGHT(text, [num_chars])

Example(s):
=RIGHT(“Open Sesame”,6) [Result: Sesame]
=RIGHT(A1)

Basic Excel Functions #11: MID()

What this function does: Returns the specified number of characters from the middle of a text string, given a starting position and length.

Usage: =MID(text, start_num, num_chars)

Example(s):
=MID(“Open Sesame”,2,3) [Result: pen]
=MID(A1,2,3)

Basic Excel Functions #12: CONCATENATE()

What this function does: Joins several strings into one text string.

Usage: =CONCATENATE(text1, [text2], …)

Example(s):
=CONCATENATE(“One “,”small “,”step “,”for “,”mankind.”) [Result: One small step for mankind.]
=CONCATENATE(A1,B1,C1,D1)

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