Free Excel Training Online Lesson One: Basic Formulas

2KO Africa welcomes you to our free Excel training online. We are based in Cape Town, and have been offering classes from beginner to advanced level for 20 years. Our style of training is varied, and students can learn online, in class with an instructor, blended learning or we can do the training at your premises for groups.


Lesson 1

It's all about formulas!

Excel is not just a tool to create tables, or to arrange data easily in columns. The power of Excel comes to the fore, when we create formulas to turn our tables into something more meaningful. So this lesson we will look at basic formulas.


How to Start a Formula

In order to "tell" Excel that we are about to create a formula, we start with an equals sign. The moment you enter = into a cell, it puts Excel into "formula mode". It's as simple as that. Remember, never press a space or type an alpha character (A-Z or punctuation mark), to start. Just press equals (=).


Now in its simplest form, Excel can be used as a calculator.


So, you can enter a formula as follows:

=10+20 and then press Enter Key.


Excel would display 30 in the result field. But why spend thousands on a spreadsheet program when you can buy a calculator to do the same thing for a few Rands?


Table 1


Using Cell References in Formulas

Look at Table 1 above. Each block or cell in a sheet is identified by a unique name, or "cell address". A cell address begins with a letter, and is followed by a number. Where column B intersects with row 2, the cell is identified as B2.


Look at Table 2 below. You will see a 10 has been entered into cell B2, and 20 has been entered into B3.


Now let's use these references in our formula, instead of the numbers.

Our formula now looks like this:  =B2+B3


Table 2


Wherever that formula was entered, the answer would appear as soon as Enter is pressed to insert the formula into the cell. Let's assume we placed that formula in cell B5, the sheet would look like this:


Table 3


Finally, the last part of this lesson is to consider the other mathematical operators, and to see how they would be used in a formula.


The operators are as follows:

+             Addition

*             Multiplication

-              Subtraction

/             Division


Assuming we change our formula from addition to subtraction, we would see this:


The result would be 10.



The same formula that uses multiplication, would be:


The result would be 200



The same formula that uses division, would be:


The result would be 2



Practice on your own

Create the following on a blank Excel sheet

Table 4


  1. Position your cursor in cell  A5 and add A2 and A3 together

  2. Position your cursor in cell  B5 and subtract B3 from B2

  3. Position your cursor in cell  C5 and multiply C3 and C2

  4. Position your cursor in cell  D5 and divide D2 by D3


Check your Answers:

If you would like to check your answers, click here   (Note the file will open in Excel)


We hope you have enjoyed this very first lesson in Microsoft Excel.


To start lesson 2, click here

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