Getting Help with Excel Functions - dummies

By Conrad Carlberg

Ever had trouble remembering what information you need to provide to an Excel function? For some functions, like SUM and AVERAGE, no problem: You just enter the name of the function, and then an open parenthesis, drag through the cells involved, and enter a close parenthesis.

But for more-complicated functions such as PMT (which shows you the amount of a recurring payment for a given loan amount, interest rate, and number of payments) or HYPERLINK (which you use to put a hyperlink into a worksheet), remembering what the inputs are and what order to enter them can be difficult. The order in which you enter the inputs is important because, for example, Excel will interpret this:

=PMT(360,.005,100000)

as meaning that the interest rate is 360 percent and that you’re going to make only 0.005 payments. Instead, you need to enter something like this:

=PMT(.005,360,100000)

which means that the interest rate is one half of 1 percent per payment period, and you’re going to make 360 payments.

The Insert Function tool can be helpful for these more-complex functions. To the left of the Formula Bar, you’ll see the Insert Function button (labeled fx). Click the Insert Function button to get to the Insert Function dialog box, which lets you first select the function you want to use, and then guides you through entering the inputs you want to use — in the correct order.