Basic math in Excel

Operator order in Excel 2013

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How do you know what part of your formula Excel acts on first, second, third, and so on? This video explains it.

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Excel uses the standard math rules of operator order in formulas.

I find the following mnemonic helpful in remembering these: "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally".

Parentheses first, innermost if nested.

Exponent, multiplication, and division, left to right, and lastly, addition and subtraction, left to right.

Calculations in parentheses are evaluated first, inner to outer, if they are nested.

In this example, 3 plus 3 is in parentheses, so those numbers are added first.

This leaves us with 6 times 5, which is 30.

This is an example of nested parentheses.

What's in the innermost pair is evaluated first.

4 divided by 2 is 2, and that is added to 3 for a result of 5.

Exponents are evaluated next, but they are outside the scope of this course.

Multiplication and division are evaluated next, working from left to right.

In this example, going from left to right, 30 divided by 5 is 6, and 6 times 3 is 18.

With parentheses around 5 times 3, this returns a different result.

5 times 3 is evaluated first, since it is in parentheses, returning 15. Then 30 is divided by 15, resulting in 2.

Last in the operator order are addition and subtraction, working from left to right.

In this example, working from left to right, 5 plus 3 is 8, and 8 minus 6 is 2.

Up next, More complex formulas.

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