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Chapter 13. Using Functions > Using Excel's Built-In Function Reference

Using Excel's Built-In Function Reference

While preparing this book, we had to make some tough choices. Fully describing each of the hundreds of worksheet functions would fill an entire book—or two, perhaps. To provide the greatest benefit, we had to decide which functions to focus on and which to mention only briefly. Admittedly, we tend to devote more ink to financial, information, and lookup functions than we do to engineering or trigonometric functions. We think this makes sense for the majority of our readers. If you need more information about functions that we do not cover in great detail, Excel offers several built-in resources:

  • The online Help system. The online Help system includes a detailed description of each worksheet function. Just press F1 to display the Microsoft Excel Help task pane, and then type a function name into the Search box to find all the relevant Help topics. You can also click the Table of Contents link in the task pane, click on Working With Data, and then select the Function Reference, where the functions are grouped into functional categories to help you find the one you need, as shown in Figure 13-1.

    Figure 13-1. Excel's online Help system includes a comprehensive function reference.

  • The Insert Function dialog box. This dialog box, shown in Figure 13-5 on page 406, can be used to search through the entire list of functions if you're not sure which function you need. To display the Insert Function dialog box, click the Insert Function button in the formula bar.

    Figure 13-5. Find a function using the Insert Function dialog box.

  • The Function Arguments dialog box. This dialog box, shown in Figure 13-2, provides details about the function, and the required arguments appear in the middle of the dialog box. Notice that there is also a link to the relevant Help topic at the bottom of the dialog box. To display the Function Arguments dialog box, first select a cell containing a function and then click the Insert Function button on the formula bar. You can also click the Insert Function button while you are in the process of entering a formula after you type in a valid function name and an open parenthesis.

    Figure 13-2. Click the Insert Function button for instant assistance with an existing function or to find a function that fills your need.

  • Function ScreenTips. These (yellow tags that appear below formulas) are useful if you are unsure about the syntax of a function as you enter a formula, and you can get help without even leaving the cell. After you type the required open parenthesis following any valid function name, the appropriate ScreenTip appears, as shown in Figure 13-3. The ScreenTip shows you the correct function syntax and also includes a link to the Help topic on the selected function. Just click the function name in the ScreenTip to display the relevant topic from the online Help system. If you click an argument name in the ScreenTip, the corresponding section of the formula is highlighted for you, making it easy to identify each argument, as shown in Figure 13-3. (To turn off this feature, choose Tools, Options, click the General tab, and under Settings, clear the Function ScreenTips check box.)

    Figure 13-3. Click an argument name in the Function ScreenTip, which appears when you click an existing function, to highlight the corresponding argument in the cell.



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