Add formulas and functions


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You can use functions and formulas to automate calculations in Google Sheets.

You can perform many different types of calculations by using functions to create formulas in Google Sheets. 

Add formulas and functions to a spreadsheet

To get an example spreadsheet and follow along with the video, click 'Make a copy' below.

Make a copy

Use a formula

  1. Open a spreadsheet.
  2. Type an equals sign (=) in a cell and type in the function that you want to use. 

Note: You may see suggested formulas and ranges based on your data.

A function help box will be visible throughout the editing process to provide you with a definition of the function and its syntax, as well as an example for reference. If you need more information, click the 'Learn more' link at the bottom of the help box to open a full article.

Tip: You might get suggestions to help you complete formulas with the relevant functions. You can accept or reject these suggestions.

To turn formula suggestions on or off, at the top, click Tools Next Suggestion controls and then Enable formula suggestions.

You might find correction suggestions in previously compiled data and analyses to improve confidence in insights. You can accept or reject these suggestions.

To turn formula corrections on or off, at the top, click Tools and then Suggestion controls and then Enable formula corrections.

Additional features for creating formulas

Simple ways to select and edit ranges

Range-selection mode

  • When editing a formula, the range-selection signal (a grey bracket) will appear next to your cursor where you’re likely to need a range in the formula. When you see the signal, you can move the keyboard arrows around your sheet to select a range.
  • Toggle this mode on and off using the keyboard shortcuts F2 or Ctrl + E. If range-selection mode is turned off, use the arrow keys to move your cursor inside the input box instead of selecting a range.
  • You can also click within the sheet to select a range when editing a formula.

Range replacement

  • When you have the text of a range highlighted in your formula, use F2 or Ctrl + E to enter range-selection mode and easily make adjustments to the range.
  • If you press Shift + F2 or Shift + Ctrl + E while editing the text of a range, you can easily make adjustments to all occurrences of that range in the formula.

Tip: You can also select ranges for your formula that are non-adjacent. To select multiple cells, click and hold Ctrl on your keyboard (Cmd on a Mac) as you select the cells that you want to include in the formula.

Formula corrections

If there are errors after you apply a formula to a range, a 'Formula correction' box may appear with a suggested fix.

To accept or reject suggestions, you can

  • Click Accept  or Dismiss cancel.
  • Press Crtl + Enter or Cmd + Return (on a Mac).

To turn Formula correction on or off:

  1. At the top left, click Tools and then Auto-complete
  2. Click Enable formula corrections.  
Nested functions

A function used in the same cell with another function is called a nested function. When functions are combined, Google Sheets will calculate the innermost function first. The nested function is contained in parentheses and is used as one of the components of the surrounding function.

For example, let's say that you want to calculate the absolute value of a sum of several numbers in the cell range A1:A7. To calculate the sum of these numbers, you would enter '=SUM(A1:A7)' into a cell.

To calculate the absolute value of this sum, you need to nest the sum formula within absolute value formula. To calculate both formulas in a single cell, enter '=ABS(SUM(A1:A7))' into the cell. Note that the =SUM() function is performed first and is used as a component in the =ABS() function.

Formula highlighting

When you reference other cells in a formula, those cells will be highlighted in contrasting colours to help you more easily build a formula. When you click on a cell that contains a completed formula, you'll also see these cells highlighted.

Change the formula bar size 

To make the formula bar bigger or smaller, click the bottom of it, then drag it up or down.

Note: You can also use keyboard shortcuts to change the size. Click the formula bar, then click:

  • PC: Ctrl + Up and Ctrl + Down 
  • Mac: Ctrl + Option + Up and Ctrl + Option + Down
Functions that don't work
Some functions from other spreadsheet programs don't work in Sheets.
Type Description

Calls a dynamic link library or code resource. Since this resource might not be available on all devices, Sheets doesn’t use this function.

Tip: You can use macros or Apps Script instead.


Lets you use Excel’s CUBE data model.

Tip: If you want to use similar CUBEs, you can use the data connectors feature.


Returns information about the Sheets document file, such as its file path.

Note: Because Sheets emphasises online collaboration, much of the information from this method may not be available or the most transparent to all users.


Gets the registry ID from Windows.

Note: Since Sheets isn’t linked to any one operating system, this function isn’t supported.


Gets data from a Component Object Model (COM) automation server.

Tip: Since everyone can’t get to the COM server, you can use macros or Apps Script.


Relies on Windows to work fully.

Note: Since Sheets isn’t linked to any one operating system, this function isn’t supported.

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