Functionsare built-in formulas. They can perform mathematical operations quickly and easily. Like formulas, functions begin with an equal sign (=) and are made up of cell references, values, and operators. Unlike formulas, functions also have a function name that describes the operation to be performed. The name is followed by parentheses that contain the function arguments. The arguments specify the values or cells to be used by the function.

Functions make formulas easier to read, understand, and enter. For example, instead of typing the formula =E3+E4+E5+E6+E7+E8+E9, we could use the SUM function and simply enter =SUM(E3:E9).

Copying the practice workbook

If you are beginning this course at this point, you will need to copy the practice workbook to your Google Drive.

To begin copying the practice workbook in a new browser window,

The file begins to open in a new window of the web browser. Before the document will open and can be edited, we need to make a copy of it.

Move to the new browser window.

To copy the workbook file, in the browser window,

Click

A copy of the file is now open and, by default, is saved in your Google Drive. The filename now has the words "Copy of" at the beginning.

Entering a function

Let's use the SUM function to find the total number of items sold. We want this total to be in cell C7.

To make cell C7 the active cell,

Click in cell C7

If we know the function name, we can simply begin entering the function. Even if we don't know the function name, Google Sheets will suggest possibilities as we type in the cell. Remember, all functions start with an equal sign (=).

To begin typing the function, in cell C7, type:

=

As soon as we begin typing, Google Sheets makes a guess that we want to use the SUM function on cells C2:C6.

Google Sheets is often, but not always, correct when guessing our intentions. It is important to look closely at what Google Sheets is suggesting. In this case, we do want the SUM function applied to the cells in column C so we will use this suggestion.

To accept the SUM(C2:C6) suggestion, on the keyboard, press:

Enter key

Sheets gives a visual cue showing us which cells are being used in the function and what the total will be.

To finishing entering this function, on the keyboard, press:

Enter key

The total number of items sold, 148, appears in cell C7.

Copying a function

Now that the SUM function is in cell C7, we can copy it to cell D7 to see the total amount of sales for the fundraiser. To do this, we will use the autofill handle. The autofill handle is the small box in the lower right corner of the active cell, as seen in the following image:

If we place our cursor on this box, the cursor shape changes to a crosshair.

Using this cursor, we can press & drag to copy the function in the cell.

To make cell C7 the active cell,

Click in cell C7

To use the autofill handle, in cell C7,

Point to the autofill handle in the lower right corner of the cell

To copy the function to cell D7,

Press & Drag the autofill handle to cell D7

The SUM function has been copied and the Total Item Sales has been correctly calculated: $1,155.00.

Using the Functions tool

If we don't know the name of the function, we can use the Functions tool to choose one from a list. Let's use this feature to enter the MIN function in cell H1. The MIN function will return the minimum value in a range of cells.

To make cell H1 the active cell,

Click in cell H1

To view the available functions, on the toolbar,

Click

NOTE: The Functions button may not be visible on the toolbar. It may be necessary to Click the More button to see all of the tools.

To choose the MIN function, in the drop-down list,

Click MIN

The MIN function appears in cell H1 and a dialog box appears. This dialog box gives us information about the function and how it is used.

We are trying to find the lowest price of all of the items. The item prices are in column B. Therefore, we will use the range B2:B6 in the function.

To add the range B2:B6 to the function, type:

B2:B6 Enter key

The MIN function is entered and the result, $2.00, appears in cell H1.

Because we used cell references that were formatted as currency in our function, the result is automatically formatted as currency.

Let's add some other functions related to the item prices. We'll begin by using the MAX function to find the highest item price. We'll put this function in cell H2.

To select the correct cell, if necessary,

Click in cell H2

To enter the MAX function, type:

=max(B2:B6) Enter key

The maximum item price, $15.00, appears in cell H2.

Now let's use the AVERAGE function to find the average item price.

To select the correct cell, if necessary,

Click in cell H3

To enter the AVERAGE function, type:

=average(B2:B6) Enter key

The average item price, $8.20, appears in cell H3.