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

If you’re looking to put a formula in Excel, you’re in the right place! It’s actually quite simple. You start by clicking on the cell where you want the result to appear. Then, type the equals sign (=) to begin your formula, followed by the formula itself, such as =SUM(A1:A10) for summing up values. Hit Enter, and you’re done!

Step-by-Step Guide to Put a Formula in Excel

In this section, we’ll walk you through the steps of putting a formula in Excel. By the end, you’ll be able to perform basic calculations and even some more complicated functions.

Step 1: Open Excel and Select a Cell

Start by opening up Excel and selecting the cell where you want your formula to be.

This step is crucial because it tells Excel where you want the result of your formula to appear. Think of it as planting a seed in a specific spot in your garden.

Step 2: Type the Equals Sign (=)

Once you’ve selected the cell, type the equals sign (=).

The equals sign is like a signal to Excel that what follows is a formula, not just text. It’s a universal sign that a calculation is about to happen.

Step 3: Enter Your Formula

After the equals sign, type your desired formula. For example, if you’re adding numbers, you might type =SUM(B1:B5).

Formulas can range from simple arithmetic like =A1+A2 to more complex functions like =VLOOKUP(B2, A1:B10, 2, FALSE). Excel has a wide variety of built-in functions to explore.

Step 4: Complete the Formula and Press Enter

Finish typing your formula and press the Enter key on your keyboard.

This action completes the formula and tells Excel to calculate the result. Like pressing a button on a calculator, it triggers the computation.

Step 5: Review the Result

Check the cell you initially selected to see the result of your formula.

Now, your selected cell should display the result of the calculation. If you see an error message, you might want to double-check your formula for any mistakes.

After completing these steps, you should see the result of your formula in the selected cell. If everything was done correctly, Excel would have performed the calculation and displayed the result for you to see.

Tips for Putting a Formula in Excel

  • Double-check your cell references: If your formula isn’t working, ensure you’re referencing the correct cells.
  • Use parentheses for clarity: Parentheses can help break down complex formulas and make them easier to understand.
  • Take advantage of Excel’s built-in functions: Functions like SUM, AVERAGE, and IF can save you a lot of time.
  • Use the Formula Bar: The Formula Bar at the top of the Excel window shows you the details of the formula in the selected cell, making it easier to edit.
  • Practice makes perfect: The more you use Excel and its formulas, the more comfortable you’ll become.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Excel formula?

An Excel formula is an equation that performs calculations on values in your spreadsheet. It can be simple like addition, or complex involving multiple functions.

Can I copy a formula to other cells?

Yes, you can copy a formula to other cells by dragging the fill handle (a small square at the bottom-right corner of the selected cell) across the cells you want to fill.

What do I do if I get an error message?

If you get an error message, it usually means there’s something wrong with your formula. Double-check your cell references and the syntax of your formula.

How do I use more complex functions?

Excel offers a wide range of functions for different calculations. You can find them under the "Formulas" tab in Excel. Each function typically comes with a description and syntax guide.

Can I combine multiple formulas?

Yes, you can combine multiple formulas to perform more complex calculations. For example, you can nest functions like =SUM(A1:A10) + AVERAGE(B1:B10).


  1. Open Excel and select a cell.
  2. Type the equals sign (=).
  3. Enter your formula.
  4. Complete the formula and press Enter.
  5. Review the result.


Learning how to put a formula in Excel is like discovering a superpower for handling data. Whether it’s a simple addition or a complex financial model, formulas make your life easier by automating calculations. Once you’ve got the basics down, you can explore more advanced functions and combinations. So, go ahead and experiment! Try different formulas and see what you can create. Remember, practice is key. Over time, you’ll find that Excel can do much of the heavy lifting for you, making you more efficient and effective in your work. If you need more tutorials, there are plenty of online resources to dive deeper. Happy calculating!

Get Our Free Newsletter

How-to guides and tech deals

You may opt out at any time.
Read our Privacy Policy