# Excel Basics Day 1 : What is a Formula?

The genesis of these lessons are in a series of emails that I began sending to my friends and colleagues to teach them Excel. The central motivation was the frequent Excel queries that I received from them.

My aim was to discuss 25-30 formulas and a similar number of concepts/features. I believe that these 50-60 topics are easy to master and, yet, carry a bulk of the load of the Excel skills that we require on a daily basis. They are enough to cause a significant improvement in the working of any individual. To ensure minimum time commitments from them, I kept the lessons extremely short

Now, let’s jump right into where I had begun for my friends.

What is a Formula?

A formula is an instruction to Microsoft Excel to do a series of tasks to produce the result/solution that you want.

Any formula, written in Excel, must have three components:

i) = Any formula must begin with “=” sign. Excel uses this sign to decide whether a cell contains a formula or not.

ii) Name of the formula You should know the name of the formula which can be used to get the result/solution that you want. Most of the formula names are self-explanatory: SUM or AVERAGE or RANK do what their names imply. There are hundreds of formula in Excel to do different tasks. However, 40–50 formula forms the bulk of the day to day uses. Knowing them is enough to improve our skill and efficiency by a considerable margin.

iii) Arguments Arguments are the sets of information on which a formula functions. For example, if we use the formula =SUM(23,48,68), SUM is the name of the formula and 23,48 and 68 are the Arguments. The formula tells Excel to calculate the sum 23, 48 and 68 and show the total in the place of the formula.

Please try using the formula in EXCEL, if something is not clear.