Excel has hundreds of functions. I have been presenting Excel courses for many years and use Excel every day at work, and I still use the **Insert Function** button to create every single function. You should, too.

##### In this post:

##### Required knowledge:

##### See full list of functions for:

## 1. Terminology

A *function* has * arguments*. An

*argument*is a

*value*passed to a

*function*when the function is

*called*.

The *arguments* are always supplied to the function between **brackets**. *Arguments* are separated from one another by a comma or a semi-colon, depending on the **Regional Settings** of the computer you are working on.

Functions ALWAYS ** return** something!

Only four functions require **no** *arguments* (the brackets remain empty):

## 2. Mathematical operators

The following operators are used in Excel for maths formulae and functions:

`+` addition

`-` subtraction

`*` multiply (product)

`/` division

`^` power

## 3. Comparison operators

The following comparison operators are used:

`<` less than

`<=` less than or equal to

`>` greater than

`>=` greater than or equal to

`=` equal

`<>` not equal

## 4. Grab a function

I only — and always — use the first option, which is to use the **Insert Function** button.

### 4.1 Insert Function button

The **Insert Function** button is one way of accessing Excel’s functions. In the example below we use the `SUM()`

function:

- Select the cell where the calculation should be performed, and the answer displayed
- Click on the
**Insert Function**button - The
**Insert Function**dialog opens - Click on the drop-down to see the list of categories
- Select a category to display an alphabetic list of functions (select the
**All**option if you do not know which category the function belongs to, or select**Recent**if you used the function recently) - Select the function you wish to use
- Use the description to confirm your choice of functions
- Click on
**OK** - Complete the required argument(s) for the function; the
`SUM`

function requires at least one argument, in this example the range`A1:A10`

- As each argument text box is selected, an explanation for the argument is displayed
- The function is displayed in the
**Formula Bar**as it is being built - The answer is displayed (if there is a mistake, an error code will be displayed in red)
- Select the
**OK**button to complete the function

Use the `Tab` key to move progress from one argument input to the next (and `Shift`+`Tab` to move backwards). This way Excel will (almost always) take care of additional syntax requirements, such as when quotation marks are required.

### 4.2 Function Library

I have never used this method and can’t recommend it, but maybe you find it easier…

- Select the
**Formulas**tab - Select the
**Recently Used**category - Follow the instructions from
**Step 9**in the previous example

## 5. More advanced example

If the first example did not convince you, hopefully this second, more complex example, will! The VLOOKUP function has a relatively complex syntax, and it would be foolish to tackle it without all the help you can get!

- We are going to enter the
*Serial Number*we are searching for in cell F2. - We are going to enter the
**VLOOKUP**function in cell G2 and this is where the*Device Name*is going to be displayed as the result of the function. Type`=VL`in cell G2 and you will see the VLOOKUP function appear in the auto-complete list — double-click on the**VLOOKUP**function - Click on the
**Insert Function**button - To open the Function Arguments dialog
- Your cursor should now be in the
**Lookup_value***argument*field - The description of the
**Argument**that currently has*focus*

## 6. Next steps

- Learn all there is to know about Selecting function criteria in Excel.
- Have a look at the
**Excel functions you need to know for** - Create a custom function in Excel

#### References:

*Microsoft*(no date)*Microsoft Support*. Available at: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/excel-functions-alphabetical-b3944572-255d-4efb-bb96-c6d90033e188 (Accessed: 6 March 2024).