Excel formulas can do everything that a basic calculator can do, so if you’re in a hurry and don’t want to pull up the Windows Calculator application, you can enter a formula in Excel to get a quick result. Experimenting with this type of formula is a great way to get accustomed to formulas in general.

Excel also has an advantage over some basic calculators (including the one in Windows): It easily does exponentiation. For example, if you want to calculate 5 to the 8th power, you would write it in Excel as =5^8.

Just as in basic math, formulas are calculated by an order of precedence. The table lists the order.

Order of Precedence in a Formula
Order Item Example
1 Anything in parentheses =2*(2+1)
2 Exponentiation =2^3
3 Multiplication and division =1+2*2

In this exercise, you learn how to enter some formulas that perform simple math calculations.

1. Launch Excel if needed and open a new blank workbook. If you already have another workbook open, press Ctrl+N to create a new workbook.

2. Click cell A1, type =2+2, and press Enter.

The result of the formula appears in cell A1.

3. Click cell A1 again to move the cell cursor back to it; then look in the Formula bar.

Notice that the formula you entered appears there, as shown in this figure.

4. Click cell A2, type =2+4*3, and press Enter.

The result of the formula appears in cell A2.

In this case, because of the order of operations, the multiplication was done first (4 times 3 equals 12), and then 2 was added for a total of 14.

5. Press the up-arrow key once to move the cell cursor back to A2 and examine the formula in the formula bar.

6. In cell A3, type =(2+4)*3 and press Enter.

In this case, the parentheses forced the addition to occur first (2 plus 4 equals 6), and then 3 was multiplied for a total of 18.

7. Press the up-arrow key once to move the cell cursor back to A3 and note the formula shown.

8. Close the workbook without saving changes to it.