Google Sheets

Working with Functions

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A **function** is a **predefined formula** that performs calculations using specific values in a particular order. Excel includes many common functions that can be used to quickly find the **sum**, **average**, **count**, **maximum value**, and **minimum value** for a range of cells. In order to use functions correctly, you'll need to understand the different **parts of a function** and how to create **arguments **to calculate values and cell references.

Watch the video below to learn how to create functions.

Similar to entering a formula, the order in which you enter a function into a cell is important. Each function has a specific order—called **syntax**—that must be followed in order for the function to calculate properly. The basic syntax to create a formula with a function is to insert an **equals sign (=)**, a **function name **(AVERAGE, for example, is the function name for finding an average), and an **argument**. Arguments contain the information you want the formula to calculate, such as a range of cell references.

Arguments can refer to both **individual cells** and **cell ranges **and must be enclosed within **parentheses**. You can include one argument or multiple arguments, depending on the syntax required for the function.

For example, the function **=AVERAGE(B1:B9) **would calculate the **average** of the values in the cell range **B1:B9**. This function contains only one argument.

Multiple arguments must be separated by a **comma**. For example, the function **=SUM(A1:A3, C1:C2, E1) **will **add** the values of all of the cells in the three arguments.

Google Sheets has a variety of functions available. Here are some of the most common functions you'll use:

**SUM**: This function**adds**all of the values of the cells in the argument.**AVERAGE**: This function determines the**average**of the values included in the argument. It calculates the sum of the cells and then divides that value by the number of cells in the argument.**COUNT**: This function**counts**the number of cells with numerical data in the argument. This function is useful for quickly counting items in a cell range.**MAX**: This function determines the**highest****cell value**included in the argument.**MIN**: This function determines the**lowest cell value**included in the argument.

The** Functions button** allows you to automatically return the results for a range of cells. The answer will display in the cell below the range.

- Select the
**range of cells**you want to include in the argument. In our example, we'll select**D3:D12**. - Click the
**Functions button**, then select the desired**function**from the drop-down menu. In our example, we'll select**SUM**. - In the cell directly below the selected cells, the function appears.
- Press the
**Enter**key on your keyboard. The function will be**calculated**, and the**result**will appear in the cell. In our example, the sum of**D3:D12**is**$765.29**.

If you already know the function name, you can easily type it yourself. In the example below, which is a tally of cookie sales, we'll use the **AVERAGE** function to calculate the **average number of units sold** by each troop.

- Select the cell where the answer will appear. In our example, we'll select
**C10.** - Type the
**equals sign (=)**, then type the desired**function name**. You can also select the desired function from the list of**suggested****functions**that appears below the cell as you type. In our example, we'll type**=AVERAGE**. - When typing a function manually, Google Sheets also displays a window that lists the specific arguments the function needs. This window appears when the first parenthesis is typed and stays visible as the arguments are typed.
- Enter the
**cell range**for the argument**parentheses**. In our example, we'll type**(C3:C9)**. This formula will add the values of cells C3:C9, then divide that value by the total number of values in the range. - Press the
**Enter**key on your keyboard, and the answer appears.

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

If you have experience using spreadsheets and want to use Google Sheets to make more advanced calculations, you can explore the **Google Sheets function list**. It is a handy reference for hundreds of financial, statistical, and data analysis functions.

If you are familiar with functions found in Microsoft Excel's Function Library, you will find that the Google Sheets function list has many of the same functions.

Click the **Functions button** and select **More functions...** from the drop-down menu. The **Google sheets function list** will appear in a new browser tab.

If you're comfortable with basic functions, you may want to try a more advanced one like **VLOOKUP**. You can check out our article on How to Use Excel's VLOOKUP Function for more information. Like most functions, VLOOKUP works the same way in Excel and Google Sheets.

- Open our example file. Make sure you're signed in to Google, then click
**File**>**Make a copy**. - Select the
**Challenge**sheet. - Fix the formula in cell
**C10**so it finds the average number of units sold by all of the troops. - In cell
**C11**, write a**function**that will find the total amount of units sold by all of the troops. - In cell
**C12**, write a**function**that will find the largest number of units sold by a troop. - When you're finished, your spreadsheet should look something like this:

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