Entering Formulas With The AutoSum Tool

by Andrew Whiteman

Excel’s AutoSum tool is used to automatically generate formulas. It is found in two locations on the ribbon: firstly in the Editing section of the Home Tab; and, secondly in the Function Library section of the Formulas Tab.

The AutoSum tool has a variety of uses. Its principal function use it to generate the total or SUM of a series of numbers. To do this, you highlight a row of cells and click once on the AutoSum tool. Excel will then place the total of the highlighted cells in the first available empty cell to the right of the selected range. You can then copy the formula using the Autofill handle. As you drag down, Excel copies the formula making the necessary changes to return the correct total for each row.

The AutoSum tool can also be used to calculate the total of several columns simultaneously. To do this, select all the data in all the columns you wish to total and then click once on the AutoSum tool. Excel creates a formula at the bottom of each column in the first vacant cell.

Clicking on the AutoSum tool always generates a formula containing the SUM function which returns the total of a given range of cells. However the AutoSum tool can also be used to generate other functions, such as AVERAGE. To access the other functions, click on the drop-down menu to the right of the AutoSum tool, choose a function and then make sure that Excel has correctly guessed the range of cells you wish to apply the function to.

If Excel has not guessed the cells you wish to analyse, you can correct it: either by keying in the correct reference or by resizing the range-selection rectangle until it encloses the correct cells. The formula can then be copied using the AutoFill handle.

The AVERAGE function often tends to generated a number containing several decimal places. If you would like a consistent number of decimals, click the Launch button in the Number section of the Home Tab, select “Number” as the category and then enter the number of decimal places you like.

The other functions available on the AutoSum tool are COUNT ( the number of cells in the highlighted range containing numbers); MAX (the highest value in the range); and MIN (the lowest value). The final option in the AutoSum tool drop-down menu says “Other Functions”. This gives you access to Excel’s complete range of functions.

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