How to Make Formulas in Excel: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Learning how to make formulas in Excel can seem daunting at first, but it’s easier than you think. By following a few simple steps, you can start creating formulas to perform calculations, automate tasks, and analyze data. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process with a step-by-step tutorial and provide tips to ensure success.

Step By Step Tutorial on How to Make Formulas in Excel

Creating formulas in Excel will help you perform mathematical operations and analyze data effortlessly. Let’s dive into the steps to get you started.

Step 1: Open Excel and Select a Cell

Start by opening Excel and selecting the cell where you want the result of your formula to appear.

Selecting the correct cell is crucial because this is where Excel will display the outcome of your formula. Click on the cell to make it active.

Step 2: Enter an Equal Sign (=)

In the selected cell, type an equal sign (=) to let Excel know that you are entering a formula.

The equal sign is the universal indicator that a formula is being used. Without it, Excel would treat your entry as plain text.

Step 3: Input Your Formula

After the equal sign, type the formula you want to use. For example, type "A1+B1" to add the values in cells A1 and B1.

Excel formulas can include cell references, numbers, and mathematical operators like +, -, *, and /. Be precise with your cell references.

Step 4: Press Enter

Once you’ve entered your formula, press the Enter key to execute it.

Hitting Enter tells Excel to calculate and display the result of the formula in the selected cell.

Step 5: Verify Your Results

Check that the result displayed in the cell is what you expected. If it’s not, double-check your formula for any errors.

Errors can occur from typos or incorrect cell references. Excel will often indicate errors with an error message like #VALUE! or #DIV/0!.

After completing these steps, Excel will automatically calculate and display the result of your formula in the selected cell. You can now use this formula in other cells by copying and pasting or by dragging the fill handle.

Tips for Making Formulas in Excel

  • Use Cell References: Instead of typing numbers directly into your formula, use cell references to make your formulas dynamic and update-able.
  • Double-Check Your Work: Always double-check your formulas for accuracy, especially when working with large datasets.
  • Learn Common Functions: Familiarize yourself with common Excel functions like SUM, AVERAGE, and VLOOKUP to enhance your productivity.
  • Use Absolute References: Use absolute references (e.g., $A$1) when you want a cell reference to remain constant, even when copying the formula to another cell.
  • Utilize the Formula Bar: The formula bar is a great tool for entering and editing your formulas. It provides a larger space and helps spot errors.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common Excel formulas?

Some common Excel formulas include SUM (adds a range of cells), AVERAGE (calculates the mean of a range), and VLOOKUP (searches for a value in a table).

How do I fix errors in my formulas?

To fix errors, check your cell references, ensure you are using the correct formula syntax, and look for error messages that can give you clues on what’s wrong.

Can I use formulas across different worksheets?

Yes, you can reference cells in different worksheets by including the sheet name in your formula, like "Sheet1!A1".

How do I copy a formula to other cells?

You can copy a formula by dragging the fill handle (a small square at the bottom-right corner of the cell) across the cells where you want the formula to apply.

What is the difference between relative and absolute cell references?

Relative references change when you copy the formula to another cell, while absolute references remain constant. Use the dollar sign ($) to make a reference absolute (e.g., $A$1).


  1. Open Excel and select a cell.
  2. Enter an equal sign (=).
  3. Input your formula.
  4. Press Enter.
  5. Verify your results.


Mastering how to make formulas in Excel can significantly boost your efficiency and accuracy when handling data. By learning the basic steps and familiarizing yourself with common functions, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an Excel pro.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different formulas and functions to see what works best for your needs. With time and experience, creating formulas in Excel will become second nature, opening up a world of possibilities for data analysis and problem-solving.

For further reading, consider exploring more advanced Excel functions like IF statements and pivot tables. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or just someone looking to organize personal data, Excel is an invaluable tool that can make your life easier. So, dive in and start creating your own formulas today!

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