There’s very little that Microsoft Excel can’t do. At an advanced level, it can automate complex tasks and produce stunning graphs, but even a few beginner tips on creating formulas can have it working wonders for you.

After entering numbers in cells, the most simple way you can save time using Excel is to create formulas. They range from simple addition to cross-referencing multiple spreadsheets. Here’s a quick-start guide.

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Creating Formulas

1. To create a formula in a cell, start with the equals sign (=). Your formula comes after that. For example:

= 10 + 5

would return the answer of 15. Easy hey?

2. If you use cell references instead of values, then the formula will use the values in those cells. For instance::

= C3 + C6

In this example, if cell C3 contained the value 11, and C6 contained the value 20, then those values would be added together, and the formula would return the value 31.

3. This is obviously a sum, and actually SUM is one of the most common formulas in Excel. Most Excel formulas use one of these uppercase terms, such as AVERAGE, COUNT, and IF. In fact, the same result as above can be achieved using the formula:

= SUM(C3,C6)

4. Need to add more values together? Just add more commas, like so:

= SUM(C3,C4,C5,C6)

The values in these four cells will be added together.

5. Actually, in this case, you can do it even more efficiently using the formula:

= SUM(C3:C6)

This trick adds all the value between and including those in cells C3 to C6. It’s invaluable if you’re adding 10, 20, or 500 values together.