Basic Calculations

Apr 24, 2019 | Excel Hints and Tips

Need to perform basic calculations?  Are you currently performing them on a calculator and then typing them into Excel?  Think there must be a better way?  There is!!

One of the things that Excel is really good at is calculating.  There are many different calculations that can be performed from using the basic mathematical operators of add, subtract, multiply and divide to functions that perform very specialist tasks and can be combined to become even more specific.

We will be looking at starting at the beginning here!

Key Points when Performing Basic Calculations

Here are a few key items you must be aware of

  • All calculations start with “=”
  • Calculations are performed using the cell references that contain the data not the figures themselves.  If the data changes then the calculations will automatically update
  • Calculations should be set up so if anything changes in the spreadsheet they automatically update
  • The following symbols are used;
    • + means add
    • – means minus
    • * means multiply
    • / means divide
  • Calculations containing a mixture of operators perform the operations in the following order
    • Brackets
    • Order (or to the power of)
    • Divide
    • Multiply
    • Add
    • Subtract
  • A quick way to remember the order is using the pneumonic BODMAS
  • If you need to change the order then put brackets round the part of the calculation to be performed first
  • Press ENTER to confirm the calculation to be performed

For example:

The following calculation will add the contents of cells A1 to the contents in A2.


This calculation will multiply B1 by C1 then add A1 to this due to the rule of BODMAS.



Autosum is probably the most commonly used function in Excel and is used to add blocks of cells.  For only a couple of numbers the method previously described is fine but for tens or hundreds of cells this becomes quite cumbersome and Autosum comes to the rescue!

There is even an icon that does it for you.

  • Click where you want the sum to go
  • Click the Autosum button
  • Alter the cells selected if an incorrect range has been chosen
  • Press ENTER

For Example:

The following calculation will add the figures in cells A1 through to A10


These are just some of the basic calculations that get you started but there are plenty more to get to grips with.

Want to learn more about Excel then email to discuss how I can help or have a look at the Excel Courses I run.