# 7 Excel Functions That Will Make Your Life Easier

Most of us use Excel at work. It’s a powerful application that lets you track and manage all kinds of data. One of the main things we do in Excel is perform calculations using formulas – but sometimes formulas aren’t the most efficient way to figure things out. In a lot of cases, Excel functions are the better option.

Let’s look at an example.

In the spreadsheet (below), we want to calculate a total for all product categories in Q1. We could use a formula but it wouldn’t be very efficient. It would make a lot more sense to use a function. ## What are Excel Functions?

Excel functions are built-in calculations. They take input supplied by the user, perform a calculation, and return a result. All functions look very similar. They all start with an equals sign (=), followed by the function name, an opening bracket, one or more arguments, and a closing bracket. Now that we know what Excel functions are, let’s look at the 7 functions that will make your life easier!

## #1 – The SUM Function

The SUM function is used to add up a series of numbers. Excel users do this all the time. It’s so common, that Microsoft has added a button specifically for this function on the Ribbon.

Let’s revisit our example. Instead of typing a long, cumbersome formula to calculate a total for all product categories in Q1, we’ll use the SUM function. To calculate a total using the SUM function, I would click in cell B8 and type =sum(B3:B7) then press ENTER. Alternatively, I could click in cell B8 and press the AutoSum button in the Home > Editing group on the Ribbon.

## #2 – The AVERAGE Function

The AVERAGE function calculates the average value for a range of cells. In the spreadsheet (below), let’s figure out what the average total sales are for this company by quarter. To calculate the average, I would click in cell B10, type =average(B8:E8), and press ENTER.

## #3 – The COUNT Function

The COUNT function determines how many cells in a range contain numbers. Let’s figure out how many product categories are represented by numbers in Q1. In order to obtain an accurate result, I’ll omit row 8 from the range of cells specified in the COUNT function. To determine how many product categories there are, I would click in cell B11, type =count(B3:B7) and press ENTER.

## #4 – The MIN Function

The MIN function is used to determine the lowest value in a range. Let’s identify the lowest quarterly sales amount across all product categories and include all four fiscal quarters. To determine the lowest value, I would click in cell E10, type =min(B3:E7), and press ENTER.

## #5 – The MAX Function

The MAX function is used to determine the highest value in a range. In this example, I’ll figure out the highest quarterly sales amount across all categories and quarters. To determine the highest value, I would click in cell E11, type =max(B3:E7), and press ENTER.

## #6 – The TODAY Function

The TODAY function adds the current date to a selected cell. This function doesn’t require an argument.  