101 Excel functions you should know – Best article

This guide is an overview of important Excel functions you should know. The screens below show the basics. Click function names for more information and detailed examples. We also have a large list of example formulas, a more complete list of Excel functions, and video training.

Date and Time Functions

Excel provides many functions to work with dates and times. 

NOW and TODAY

You can get the current date with the TODAY function and the current date and time with the NOW Function. Technically, the NOW function returns the current date and time, but you can format as time only, as seen below:

NOW and TODAY functions

TODAY() // returns current date
NOW() // returns current time

Note: these are volatile functions and will recalculate with every worksheet change.

DAY, MONTH, YEAR, and DATE

You can use the DAY, MONTH, and YEAR functions to disassemble any date into its raw components, and the DATE function to put things back together again.

Functions to disassemble and reassemble dates

=DAY("14-Nov-2018") // returns 14
=MONTH("14-Nov-2018") // returns 11
=YEAR("14-Nov-2018") // returns 2018
=DATE(2018,11,14) // returns 4-Nov-2018

HOUR, MINUTE, SECOND, and TIME

Excel provides a set of parallel functions for times. You can use the HOUR, MINUTE, and SECOND functions to extract pieces of a time, and you can assemble a TIME from individual components with the TIME function.

Time function examples

=HOUR("10:30") // returns 10
=MINUTE("10:30") // returns 30
=SECOND("10:30") // returns 0
=TIME(10,30,0) // returns 10:30

DATEDIF and YEARFRAC

You can use the DATEDIF function to get time between dates in years, months, or days. DATEDIF can also be configured to get total time in “normalized” denominations, i.e. “2 years and 5 months and 27 days”.

DATEDIF function example

Use YEARFRAC to get fractional years:

YEARFRAC function example

=YEARFRAC("14-Nov-2018","10-Jun-2021") // returns 2.57

EDATE and EOMONTH

A common task with dates is to shift a date forward (or backward) by a given number of months. You can use the EDATE and EOMONTH functions for this. EDATE moves by month and retains the day. EOMONTH works the same way, but always returns the last day of the month.

EDATE and EOMONTH function examples

EDATE(date,6) // 6 months forward
EOMONTH(date,6) // 6 months forward (end of month)

WORKDAY and NETWORKDAYS

To figure out a date n working days in the future, you can use the WORKDAY function. To calculate the number of workdays between two dates, you can use NETWORKDAYS.

WORKDAY function example

WORKDAY(start,n,holidays) // date n workdays in future

NETWORKDAYS function example 

NETWORKDAYS(start,end,holidays) // number of workdays between dates

Note: Both functions automatically skip weekends (Saturday and Sunday) and will also skip holidays, if provided. If you need more flexibility on what days are considered weekends, see the WORKDAY.INTL function and NETWORKDAYS.INTL function. 

WEEKDAY and WEEKNUM

To figure out the day of week from a date, Excel provides the WEEKDAY function. WEEKDAY returns a number between 1-7 that indicates Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc. Use the WEEKNUM function to get the week number in a given year.

WEEKDAY and WEEKNUM function examples 

=WEEKDAY(date) // returns a number 1-7
=WEEKNUM(date) // returns week number in year

Engineering

Most Engineering functions are pretty technical. For example, you’ll find a lot of functions about complex numbers in this section. However, the CONVERT function is quite useful for everyday unit conversions. You can use CONVERT to change units for distance, weight, temperature, and much more.

CONVERT function example

=CONVERT(72,"F","C") // returns 22.2

Information Functions

ISBLANK, ISERROR, ISNUMBER, and ISFORMULA

Excel provides many functions for checking the value in a cell, including ISNUMBER,  ISTEXT, ISLOGICAL, ISBLANK, ISERROR, and ISFORMULA  These functions are sometimes called the “IS” functions, and they all return TRUE or FALSE based on a cell’s contents.

ISNUMBER ISTEXT ISLOGICAL ISBLANK ISERROR ISFORMULA

ISODD and ISEVEN

ISODD and ISEVEN will test a number to see if it’s even or odd:

ISODD and ISEVEN function examples

By the way, the green fill in the screenshots above is applied with conditional formatting.

Logical functions

Excel’s logical functions are a key building block of many  advanced formulas. If you need a primer on logical formulas, this video goes through many examples.

AND, OR and NOT

The core of Excel’s logical functions are the AND function, the OR function, and the NOT function. In the screen below, each of these function is used to run a simple test on the values in column B:

AND, OR, and NOT functions

=AND(B5>3,B5<9)
=OR(B5=3,B5=9)
=NOT(B5=2)

IFERROR and IFNA

The IFERROR function and IFNA function can be used as a simple way to trap and handle errors. In the screen below, VLOOKUP is used to retrieve cost from a menu item. Column F contains just a VLOOKUP function, with no error handling. Column G shows how to use IFNA with VLOOKUP to display a custom message when an unrecognized item is entered.

IFNA function with VLOOKUP example

=VLOOKUP(E5,menu,2,0) // no error trapping
=IFNA(VLOOKUP(E5,menu,2,0),"Not found") // catch errors

Whereas IFNA only catches an #N/A error, the IFERROR function will catch any formula error.

IF and IFS functions

The IF function is one of the most used functions in Excel. In the screen below, IF checks test scores and assigns “pass” or “fail”:

IF function example

New in Excel 2016 via Office 365, the IFS function can run multiple logical tests without nesting IFs.

IFS function example

=IFS(C5<60,"F",C5<70,"D",C5<80,"C",C5<90,"B",C5>=90,"A")

Lookup and Reference Functions

VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP

Excel offers a number of functions to lookup and retrieve data. Most famous of all is VLOOKUP:

VLOOKUP function example


More: 23 things to know about VLOOKUP.

HLOOKUP works like VLOOKUP, but expects data arranged horizontally:

HLOOKUP function example


INDEX and MATCH

For more complicated lookups, INDEX and MATCH offers more flexibility and power:

INDEX and MATCH function example


Both the INDEX function and the MATCH function are powerhouse functions that turn up in all kinds of formulas.

More: How to use INDEX and MATCH

ROW and COLUMN

You can use the ROW function and COLUMN function to find row and column numbers on a worksheet. Notice both ROW and COLUMN return values for the current cell if no reference is supplied:

ROW and COLUMN function example

The row function also shows up often in advanced formulas that process data with relative row numbers.

ROWS and COLUMNS

The ROWS function and COLUMNS function provide a count of rows in a reference. In the screen below, we are counting rows and columns in an Excel Table named “Table1”.

ROWS and COLUMNS function example

Note ROWS returns a count of data rows in a table, excluding the header row. By the way, here are 23 things to know about Excel Tables.

HYPERLINK

You can use the HYPERLINK function to construct a link with a formula. Note HYPERLINK lets you build both external links and internal links:

HYPERLINK function example


GETPIVOTDATA

The GETPIVOTDATA function is useful for retrieving information from existing pivot tables.

GETPIVOTDATA function example


CHOOSE

The CHOOSE function is handy any time you need to make a choice based on a number:

CHOOSE function example

=CHOOSE(B5,"red","blue","green") // returns "red"

TRANSPOSE

The TRANSPOSE function gives you an easy way to transpose vertical data to horizontal, and vice versa.

TRANSPOSE function example


Note: TRANSPOSE is a formula so is therefore dynamic. If you just need to do a one-time transpose operation, use Paste Special.

OFFSET

The OFFSET function is useful for all kinds of dynamic ranges. From a starting location, it lets you specify row and column offsets, and also the final row and column size. The result is a range that can be respond dynamically to changing conditions and inputs.

OFFSET function example


INDIRECT

The INDIRECT function allows you to build references as text. This concept is a bit tricky to understand at first, but it can be useful in many situations. Below, we are using INDIRECT to get values from A1 in 5 different worksheets. Each reference is dynamic. If a sheet name changes, the reference will update.

INDIRECT function example


Caution: both OFFSET and INDIRECT are volatile functions and can slow down large or complicated spreadsheets.

STATISTICAL Functions

COUNT and COUNTA

You can count numbers with the COUNT function and non-empty cells with COUNTA. You can count blank cells with COUNTBLANK, but in the screen below we are counting blank cells with COUNTIF, which is more generally useful.

COUNT and COUNTA function examples

=COUNT(B5:F5) // count numbers
=COUNTA(B5:F5) // count numbers and text
=COUNTIF(B5:F5,"") // count blanks

COUNTIF and COUNTIFS

For conditional counts, the COUNTIF function can apply one criteria. The COUNTIFS function can apply multiple criteria at the same time:

COUNTIF and COUNTIFS function examples

=COUNTIF(C5:C12,"red") // count red
=COUNTIF(F5:F12,">50") // count total > 50
=COUNTIFS(C5:C12,"red",D5:D12,"TX") // red and tx
=COUNTIFS(C5:C12,"blue",F5:F12,">50") // blue > 50

SUM, SUMIF, SUMIFS

To sum everything, use the SUM function. To sum conditionally, use SUMIF or SUMIFS. Following the same pattern as the counting functions, the SUMIF function can apply only one criteria while the SUMIFS function can apply multiple criteria.

SUM, SUMIFS, and SUMIFS function examples

=SUM(F5:F12) // everything
=SUMIF(C5:C12,"red",F5:F12) // red only
=SUMIF(F5:F12,">50") // red over 50
=SUMIFS(F5:F12,C5:C12,"red",D5:D12,"tx") // red & tx
=SUMIFS(F5:F12,C5:C12,"blue",F5:F12,">50") // blue & >50

AVERAGE, AVERAGEIF, and AVERAGEIFS

Following the same pattern, you can calculate an average with AVERAGE, AVERAGEIF, and AVERAGEIFS.

AVERAGE, AVERAGEIF, and AVERAGEIFS function examples


MIN, MAX, LARGE, SMALL

You can find largest and smallest values with MAX and MIN, and nth largest and smallest values with LARGE and SMALL. In the screen below, “data” is the named range C5:C13, used in all formulas.

MAX, MIN, LARGE, and SMALL function examples

=MAX(data) // largest
=MIN(data) // smallest
=LARGE(data,1) // 1st largest
=LARGE(data,2) // 2nd largest
=LARGE(data,3) // 3rd largest
=SMALL(data,1) // 1st smallest
=SMALL(data,2) // 2nd smallest
=SMALL(data,3) // 3rd smallest

MINIFS, MAXIFS

The MINIFS and MAXIFS. These functions let you find minimum and maximum values with conditions:

MINIFS and MAXIFS function examples

=MAXIFS(D5:D15,C5:C15,"female") // highest female
=MAXIFS(D5:D15,C5:C15,"female") // highest male
=MINIFS(D5:D15,C5:C15,"female") // lowest female
=MINIFS(D5:D15,C5:C15,"male") // lowest male

Note: MINIFS and MAXIFS are new in Excel 2016 via Office 365.

MODE

The MODE function returns the most commonly occurring number in a range:

MODE function example

=MODE(B5:G5) // returns 1

RANK

To rank values largest to smallest, or smallest to largest, use the RANK function:

RANK function example

MATH Functions

To change negative values to positive use the ABS function.

ABS function example

=ABS(-134.50) // returns 134.50

RAND and RANDBETWEEN

Both the RAND function and RANDBEWTEEN function can generate random numbers on the fly. RAND creates long decimal numbers between zero and 1. RANDBETWEEN generates random integers between two given numbers.

RAND and RANDBETWEEN function examples


ROUND, ROUNDUP, ROUNDDOWN, INT

To round values up or down, use the ROUND function. To force rounding up to a given number of digits, use ROUNDUP. To force rounding down, use ROUNDDOWN. To discard the decimal part of a number altogether, use the INT function.

ROUND, ROUNDUP, ROUNDOWN, INT function examples

=ROUND(11.777,1) // returns 11.8
=ROUNDUP(11.777) // returns 11.8
=ROUNDDOWN(11.777,1) // returns 11.7
=INT(11.777) // returns 11

MROUND, CEILING, FLOOR

To round values to a the nearest multiple use the MROUND function. The FLOOR function and CEILING function also round to a given multiple. FLOOR forces rounding down, and CEILING forces rounding up.

MROUND, CEILING, FLOOR functions

=MROUND(13.85,.25) // returns 13.75
=CEILING(13.85,.25) // returns 14
=FLOOR(13.85,.25) // returns 13.75

MOD

The MOD function returns the remainder after division. This sounds boring and geeky, but MOD turns up in all kinds of formulas, especially formulas that need to do something “every nth time”. In the screen below, you can see how MOD returns zero every third number when the divisor is 3:

MOD function example

SUMPRODUCT

The SUMPRODUCT function is powerful and versatile tool when dealing with all kinds data. You can use SUMPRODUCT to easily count and sum based on criteria, and you can use it in elegant ways that just don’t work with COUNTIFS and SUMIFS. In the screen below, we are using SUMPRODUCT to count and sum orders in March. See the SUMPRODUCT page for details and links to many examples.

SUMPRODUCT function example


AGGREGATE

The AGGREGATE function can run a number of aggregate operations on a set of data, optionally ignoring errors and/or hidden rows. In the screen below, AGGREGATE is used to perform MIN, MAX, LARGE and SMALL operations while ignoring errors. Normally, the error in cell B9 would prevent these functions from returning a result, but AGGREGATE can ignore errors and still return a result. See this page for a full list of operations AGGREGATE can run.

AGGREGATE function example 

=AGGREGATE(4,6,values) // MAX ignore errors, returns 100
=AGGREGATE(5,6,values) // MIN ignore errors, returns 75

TEXT Functions

To extract characters from the left, right, or middle of text, use LEFT, RIGHT, and MID functions:

LEFT, RIGHT, MID function examples

=LEFT("ABC-1234-RED",3) // returns "ABC"
=MID("ABC-1234-RED",5,4) // returns "1234"
=RIGHT("ABC-1234-RED",3) // returns "RED"

LEN

The LEN function will return the length of a text string. LEN shows up in a lot of formulas that count words or characters.

LEN function example

FIND, SEARCH

To look for specific text in a cell, use the FIND or SEARCH function. SEARCH allows wildcards and FIND is case-sensitive. Both will throw and error when text is not found, so wrap in the ISNUMBER function to return TRUE or FALSE (example here).

FIND and SEARCH function examples

=FIND("Better the devil you know","devil") // returns 12
=SEARCH("This is not my beautiful wife","bea*") // returns 12

REPLACE, SUBSTITUTE

To replace text by position, use the REPLACE function. To replace text by matching, use the SUBSTITUTE function. In the first example, REPLACE removes the two asterisks (**) by replacing the first two characters with an empty string (“”). In the second example, SUBSTITUTE removes all hash characters (#) by replacing “#” with “”.

REPLACE and SUBSTITUTE function examples

=REPLACE("**Red",1,2,"") // returns "Red"
=SUBSTITUTE("##Red##","#","") // returns "Red"

CODE, CHAR

To figure out the numeric code for a character, use the CODE function. To translate the numeric code back to a character, use the CHAR function. In the example below, CODE translates each character in column B to its corresponding code. In column F, CHAR translates the code back to a character.

CODE and CHAR function examples

=CODE("a") // returns 97
=CHAR(97) // returns "a"

TRIM, CLEAN

To get rid of extra space in text, use the TRIM function. To remove line breaks and other non-printing characters, use CLEAN.

TRIM and CLEAN function examples

=TRIM(A1) // remove extra space
=CLEAN(A1) // remove line breaks

Video: How to clean text with TRIM and CLEAN

CONCAT, TEXTJOIN

New in Excel 2016 via Office 365 – the CONCAT function lets you concatenate (join) multiple values, including a range of values without a delimiter. The TEXTJOIN function does the same thing, but allows you to specify a delimiter and can also ignore empty values.

CONCAT and TEXTJOIN function examples

=TEXTJOIN(", ",TRUE,B4:H4) // returns "red, blue, green, pink, black"
=CONCAT(B7:H7) // returns "8675309"

EXACT

The EXACT function allows you to compare two text strings in a case-sensitive manner.

EXACT function example

UPPER, LOWER, PROPER

To change the case of text, use the UPPER, LOWER, and PROPER function

UPPER, LOWER, PROPER function examples

=UPPER("Sue BROWN") // returns "SUE BROWN"
=LOWER("Sue BROWN") // returns "sue brown"
=PROPER("Sue BROWN") // returns "Sue Brown"

TEXT

Last but definitely not least is the TEXT function. The text function lets you apply number formatting to numbers (including dates, times, etc.) as text. This is especially useful when you need to embed a formatted number in a message, like “Sale ends on [date]”.

TEXT function example

=TEXT(B5,"$#,##0.00") 
=TEXT(B6,"000000")
="Save "&TEXT(B7,"0%")
="Sale ends "&TEXT(B8,"mmm d")

More: Detailed examples of custom number formatting.

 

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