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Working with Formulas

Entering data into a Google spreadsheet is as simple as selecting a particular cell and typing input from the keyboard. But once you’ve entered data into your spreadsheet, you need to work with those numbers to create other numbers. You do this as you would in the real world: by using common formulas to calculate your data by addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

A formula is a mathematical expression that defines the relationship between two or more values. In Google Spreadsheets, a formula can consist of numbers, mathematical operators, and the contents of other cells (referred to by the cell reference).

You construct a formula from the following elements:

  • An equals sign (=); this = sign is necessary at the start of each formula
  • One or more specific numbers and/or
  • One or more cell references
  • A mathematical operator (such as + or -); this is needed if your formula contains more than one cell reference or number

To enter a formula in a cell, move the cursor to the desired cell. Type = to start the formula, then enter the rest of the formula; remember to refer to specific cells by the "A1, B1, etc." cell reference. When you’re done typing, press Enter to accept the formula or Esc to reject the formula.

When you’re finished entering a formula, you no longer see the formula within the cell; instead, you see the results of the formula. For example, if you entered the formula =1+2, you now see the number 3 in the cell. To view the formula itself, just select the cell and then look in the reference area in the lower right corner of the spreadsheet window.

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