Using Basic Formulas

As we saw in the video, a formula is a calculation which is added into the cell of a spreadsheet. this allows the user to add in data and see automatic calculations within the sheet.

When spreadsheets were first developed the calculations that are often seen in financial spreadsheets were all completed by hand, or by using manual adding machines. The problem with this was that humans are prone to making errors and additional people would need to be brought in to make sure the calculations applied to the figures were correct.

When using a spreadsheet, we can be sure that if the calculation is correct on one set of data then the same calculation will be correct every time. One of the benefits of using a computer is that it can perform the same action again and again without making an error.

Formula Symbols

The symbols used in spreadsheets to create formulas are very similar to you the symbols used in maths with a few notable exceptions. In the table below the symbols that you would see in a spreadsheet, formula has been listed along with their explanation. You might notice that these symbols for division and multiplication are different than those used in maths and this is because there is no division or multiplication symbol on our keyboards, so an alternative had to be found. If you have undertaken any programming, these may be familiar to you.

SymbolExplanationExample
=equals
Used at the start of every formula
=10+1
B5A cell reference
Letter refers to the column, number refers to the row
=B5
+Addition symbol=B5+1
Subtraction symbol =B5-1
/Division symbol =B5/1
*Multiplication symbol =B5*1
( )Brackets
Used in formulas where BIDMAS is required
=(B5-2)+10

Activity

Now we have seen a spreadsheet in action, it is time for you to create an example of your own. Use your garden centre spreadsheet and add in formulas to calculate the total of all plants in stock and all sales made for each month.