Let’s take a look. If you know the function name, the easiest way to enter a function is just to enter an equal sign and start typing. For example, if I want to get the average of these test scores with the AVERAGE function, I can start typing the name. Excel will show a drop-down list of possible functions below by matching the characters you’ve already typed. As you type additional characters, Excel will shorten the list. To navigate through the list of suggestions manually, use the up and down arrow keys. Note that Excel will also display a brief description of each function to the right. You can move this tip around if you like. Once the function you want is highlighted, press the Tab key to confirm your choice and enter the function. Excel will enter the full function name and an opening parentheses, and leave the cursor inside, ready to add the first argument. After you add the arguments you need, close the parentheses and press Enter. Some functions require multiple arguments. For example, the VLOOKUP function accepts four arguments, one of which is optional. Arguments are separated by commas. Note that the argument you’re working with will be displayed in bold in the “help” text that appears below the function. Another way to enter functions is to use the controls on the Formulas tab of the ribbon. This is a good way to browse available functions in categories. Once you insert a function this way, Excel will display the Function Arguments dialog box. This window gives you help on each argument and will display the current value of the argument as well. Once you’ve entered all the required arguments, you’ll see the result of the function displayed in the window. Press OK to enter the function. Once a function is entered, you can get back to the Function Arguments dialog again whenever you like by clicking the Insert Function button at the left of the formula bar. You can also use the Insert Function button to enter a function.  This opens the Insert Function dialog box. From there, you can browse functions by categories, or search for the function you want. Once you find the function you’re looking for, click OK, and Excel will display the Function Arguments dialog where you can finish entering the function. The shortcut for Insert Function is Shift + F3.

Dave Bruns

Hi - I’m Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.