By Ken Bluttman

The Insert Function dialog box (shown in the following figure) is designed to simplify the task of using functions in your worksheet. The dialog box not only helps you locate the proper function for the task at hand, but also provides information about the arguments that the function takes.

Use the Insert Function dialog box to easily enter functions in a worksheet.
Use the Insert Function dialog box to easily enter functions in a worksheet.

If you use the Insert Function dialog box, you don’t have to type functions directly in worksheet cells. Instead, the dialog box guides you through a (mostly) point-and-click procedure — a good thing, because if you’re anything like me, you need all the help you can get.

In the Insert Function dialog box, you can browse functions by category or scroll the complete alphabetical list. A search feature — you type a phrase in the Search for a Function box, click the Go button, and see what comes up — is helpful. When you highlight a function in the Select a Function box, a brief description of what the function does appears under the list. You can also click the Help on This Function link at the bottom of the dialog box to view more detailed information about the function.

You can display the Insert Function dialog box in three ways:

  • Click the Insert Function button on the Formulas Ribbon.

  • On the Formula Bar, click the smaller Insert Function button (which looks like fx).

  • Click the small arrow to the right of the AutoSum feature on the Formulas Ribbon, and select More Functions. AutoSum has a list of commonly used functions that you can insert with a click. If you select More Functions, the Insert Function dialog box opens.

    The AutoSum button offers quick access to basic functions and the Insert Function dialog box.
    The AutoSum button offers quick access to basic functions and the Insert Function dialog box.