Tip: If you’re already familiar with functions and formulas and just need to know which ones are available, go to Google Sheets function reference.
Learn what a function is
A formula is anything that’s entered into a cell that begins with the equals character (=). For example:
Formulas often include functions, but they're not required. The following example shows a formula that uses the IF and SUM functions to determine whether expenses are over or under budget:
=IF(SUM(A2:A)>C2,"Over Budget","Under Budget")
In the example below, expenses are over budget because $350 is more than $300.
In the example above:
- A2:A includes all values in column A from row 2 to the bottom of the column.
- The formula assumes expenses are in column A and the budget is in cell C2.
- As you enter a value, a popup displays the projected output.
- The output changes when you change any value in cell C2 or column A.
Get started with functions
- Functions usually perform calculations on values.
- Values can also be called arguments or inputs.
- The function can have zero, one, or multiple inputs.
- The inputs themselves may be values you type in, cells, or ranges of cells
- Some functions have optional inputs that have default values when no values are provided.
How to use functions with:
The function NOW takes zero inputs. It doesn’t need any information to tell the current day and time.
To try the function, type =NOW() into any spreadsheet cell, then press Enter.
The function ABS takes one input, which must be either a single value or a single cell. For example:
=ABS(-5) or =ABS(B2)
The functions SUM and CONCAT take multiple inputs, which can be any combination of values or cell references. For example, =SUM(B1, 17, D1:D3) calculates the sum of the value in cell B1, the number 17, and the values in cells D1, D2, and D3.
- The function ROUND takes either one or two inputs and rounds the first input.
- You can specify the decimal place to round in the second input.
- If the second input isn’t specified, the function rounds to the nearest whole number. This optional input is indicated with square brackets:
=ROUND(123.456, 2): This function rounds the number to 2 decimal places.
=ROUND(123.456): This function rounds to the nearest whole number.
Learn what input a function needs
To find what input a function needs:
- Use the Google Sheets functions list. The list includes the names and descriptions of every input. For example:
VLOOKUP(search_key, range index, [is_sorted])
- Use function suggestions. Type the function name to get the list of functions, then select the function you want to learn about.
- You can click the arrow to check the input names or view all info about the function.
- Each input is highlighted in green as you enter values into the function.
About the output
An output is the result of a function. For many functions, such as NOW, ABS, SUM, and ROUND, the result is a single value.
However, the output of some functions appears in multiple cells. For example, the result of the UNIQUE function is a list of the multiple, unique values from the input.
In this example, the input is a range of 7 cells and the output is 4 cells: