Google Sheets

Creating Simple Formulas

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When working with numerical information, Google Sheets can be used to perform calculations. In this lesson, you'll learn how to **create simple formulas** that will add, subtract, multiply, and divide values. You will also be introduced to the basics of using **cell references **in formulas.

A convenient and time-saving feature of Google Sheets is its ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide numerical information for you. Google Sheets uses mathematical expressions called **formulas** that make handling these calculations easy. In this lesson, we'll focus on formulas that contain **one mathematical operator**.

Most of the time, you will be using a **cell's address **in the formula. This is called using a **cell reference**. The advantage of using cell references is that you can change a value in a referenced cell and the formula will automatically recalculate. Using cell references in your formulas will make sure the values in your formulas are accurate.

Watch the video below to learn how to work with simple formulas in Google Sheets.

Google Sheets uses standard operators for formulas: a **plus sign** for addition (**+**), **minus sign** for subtraction (**-**), **asterisk** for multiplication (*****), **forward slash** for division (**/**), and **caret** (**^**) for exponents.

All formulas must begin with an **equals sign** (**=**). This is because the cell contains—or is equal to—the formula and the value it calculates.

When a formula contains a cell address, it is using a **cell reference**. Creating a formula with cell references is useful because you can update the numerical values in cells without having to rewrite the formula.

By combining a mathematical operator with cell references, you can create a variety of simple formulas in Google Sheets. Formulas can also include a combination of a cell reference and a number.

In our example, we'll use simple formulas and cell references to help calculate a budget.

- Select the
**cell**that will display the calculated value. - Type the
**equals sign (=)**. - Type the
**cell****address**of the cell you want to reference first in the formula. A dotted border will appear around the cell being referenced. - Type the
**operator**you want to use. For example, type the**addition sign**(**+**). - Type the
**cell address**of the cell you want to reference second in the formula. - Press the
**Enter**key on your keyboard. The formula calculates, and Google Sheets displays the result.

To see how the formula recalculates, try changing the value in either cell. The formula automatically displays the new value.

Google Sheets **will not always tell you** if your formula contains an error, so it's up to you to check all of your formulas. To learn how to do this, read our article on why you should Double-Check Your Formulas.

Rather than type cell addresses, you can **point and click** the cells you want to include in your formula.

- Select the
**cell**that will display the calculated value. - Type the
**equals sign**(**=**). - Click the
**cell**you want to reference first in the formula. The address of the cell appears in the formula. Type the

**operator**you want to use in the formula. For example, type the**multiplication sign**(*****).Click the

**cell**you want to reference second in the formula. The address of the cell appears in the formula.Press the

**Enter**key on your keyboard. The formula will be calculated, and the value will appear in the cell.

Sometimes you may want to modify an existing formula. In our example, we typed an incorrect cell address in our formula, so we need to correct it.

- Double-click the
**cell**containing the formula you want to edit. The formula will be displayed in the cell. - Make the desired edits to the formula. In our example, we will replace
**C4**with**C5**. - When you're finished, press the
**Enter**key on your keyboard. The formula recalculates, and the new value displays in the cell.

- Open our example file. Make sure you're signed in to Google, then click
**File**>**Make a copy**. - Select the
**Challenge**sheet. - In cell
**D4**, create a formula that**multiplies**cells B4 and C4. Be sure to use cell references. - Use the
**fill handle**to copy the formula to cells D5 and D6. - In cell
**D7**, create a formula that**adds**cells D4, D5, and D6. - Change the quantity in cell
**B4**to 15. You should also see cells D4 and D7 change. - When you're finished, your spreadsheet should look something like this:

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