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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