Originally published at: http://www.howtogeek.com/school/microsoft-excel-formulas-and-functions/lesson1/
This How-To Geek School class is intended for people who use Excel, or try to use Excel but are intimidated by the concept of formulas and functions. Its objective is to make you an Excel pro or at least, a competent amateur, in just a few lessons.
Before I retired from the business life, I used to build custom spreadsheets in Excel, depending on what people needed for their work operations - once the program is debugged and put into use, it basically functions automatically. Just input your data and Excel does all the computing for you. It is a very fascinating and flexible program, although I worked only in Excel 2000, not the newer models. I also put together a number of Excel teaching programs, using Excel itself, for others to learn from.
As I still only have my old Excel 2000 program on my computer, it will be interesting to follow along here and see what differences Microsoft has come up with in the newer versions.
I don't think your definitions of "formula" and "function" are correct. The way you've described them will not clarify it for people that don't understand it.
For starters, your definition of a function is not correct. You wrote "A function is a calculation or operation that returns a result". That's actually what a formula is. Moreover, you wrote that a function begins with an "=". Also not true. Formulas begin with an "=", not functions. A formula can contain operators and operands, as you say, but a function is simply one type of operand.
The best way to think of a function is as a kind of pre-written, built-in formula - one that's been given a name (e.g. SUM).
I know I'm being petty and picky, but I used to teach Excel for a living, and I know from experience that it's important to get people to correctly understand the difference between a formula and a function.
How do you write a function without an "="? Last I checked, Excel recognize the function as text without the '='.
Not to be picky! but "area of a circle is the radius times pi squared or πr2." is confusing.
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