How to Do a Formula in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

How to Do a Formula in Excel

Creating a formula in Excel is like baking a cake; you mix different ingredients together to get a final product. In this case, you’re using numbers and operators (+, -, *, /) instead of flour and eggs. To set up a formula, start by clicking on the cell where you want the result, type the equal sign (=), then enter your formula using cell references and operators. Press Enter, and voila! Your formula calculates the desired value.

Step-by-Step Tutorial for How to Do a Formula in Excel

We’ll guide you through creating a simple addition formula in Excel. This will help you understand the basics, so you can apply these steps to more complex formulas later.

Step 1: Open Excel

Open Excel on your computer.

Launch Excel from your start menu or applications folder. It’s essential to have the program running before you can start using it.

Step 2: Select a Cell

Click on the cell where you want the result to appear.

Choosing the right cell is crucial because this is where your calculated value will be displayed.

Step 3: Start the Formula

Type the equal sign (=).

This equal sign tells Excel that what follows is a formula.

Step 4: Enter Cell References

Click on a cell containing a number, type an operator like +, -, *, or /, then click on another cell.

Cell references make your formula dynamic. If the values in the referenced cells change, the formula’s result will automatically update.

Step 5: Press Enter

Hit the Enter key on your keyboard.

This finalizes your formula and shows the calculated result in the selected cell.

After completing these steps, you’ll see the result of your formula in the chosen cell. For example, if you added the values of two cells, the sum will appear.

Tips for How to Do a Formula in Excel

  • Check Your Range: Always double-check the range of cells you’re referencing to avoid errors in your formula.
  • Use Parentheses: Parentheses help in organizing complex formulas, making sure calculations happen in the correct order.
  • AutoSum Feature: Excel’s AutoSum feature is handy for quickly summing up a range of cells without manually typing the formula.
  • Cell Names: Naming your cells can make your formulas easier to understand and manage.
  • Error Checking: Excel has built-in error checking tools. Use them to catch mistakes in your formulas.

Frequently Asked Questions for How to Do a Formula in Excel

How do I edit a formula in Excel?

Double-click on the cell with the formula, or select the cell and edit it in the formula bar.

Why is my formula showing as text?

If your formula is displaying as text, it might be because you forgot the equal sign at the beginning.

Can I reference cells on different sheets?

Yes, you can reference cells on different sheets by using the sheet name followed by an exclamation mark before the cell reference.

How do I copy a formula?

Select the cell with the formula, then drag the fill handle (a small square at the cell’s bottom-right corner) over the range you want to fill.

What is a relative reference?

A relative reference changes when you copy the formula to another cell, adapting to its new position.


  1. Open Excel.
  2. Select a cell.
  3. Start the formula with an equal sign (=).
  4. Enter cell references and operators.
  5. Press Enter.


And there you have it! Figuring out how to do a formula in Excel might seem intimidating at first, but it’s as easy as pie once you get the hang of it. The more you practice, the more proficient you’ll become. Whether you’re summing up a grocery list or calculating monthly expenses, knowing how to do formulas in Excel is a superpower that will save you tons of time and effort.

For further reading, check out Excel’s built-in help features or online tutorials. Ready to take your skills to the next level? Try experimenting with more complex functions like VLOOKUP or IF statements. Happy calculating!

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