Dawn Bjork Buzbee
The Software Pro®
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SUM is the most frequently used function in Excel, the very useful IF
function should also be in your Excel bag of workbook tricks. Basically,
the IF function tests whether a condition is true or false and then
performs an action such as a calculation or data entry. How often are
you sorting or filtering data to manually locate Excel entries that
might require additional data entry or auditing? The IF function can
automatically evaluate your data based on the condition or conditions
that you create.
Conditions Can Be Formulas, Values, or Text
The cell or entry that is evaluated may be a formula, value, or text;
the displayed result may also be a formula, value, or text answer. For
example, if an amount is more than 5% over the budgeted amount, then you
might display "OVER", otherwise show "OK."
First, let's look at the structure (syntax) of the IF function. As
with other Excel functions, we start with =(equals) and then the
function name followed by an open parentheses, such as =IF( . The logic
and structure of an IF function is:
=IF(what you are testing/evaluating, what to do if
true, what to do if false)
For instance, what if we want to calculate an analysis where, if the
total is greater than or equal to $1000, then a $100 bonus is entered
into the formula cell; otherwise, no bonus is given.
The formula would look like: =IF(B2>=1000, 100, 0) where B2 is the
value being evaluated. As with other formulas, the results will update
if values are changed. And, as with other formulas, this calculation can
be copied down or across to calculate additional values.
The results of the IF function can also be a text entry that you may
want to filter for checking data, such as =IF(B14=E14, "OK", "AUDIT
In this sample function, if the two cell values are the same, the
result is "OK", otherwise the answer is "AUDIT NEEDED". Notice that text
entries are surrounded by quotes (to create a character string) with the
formula commas outside the quotes. Note that it doesn't matter if you
add spaces after each comma.
But Wait...There's More! Nested Functions
Not every evaluation has only one condition limited to two different
actions. Sometimes, you may have 3 or more possibilities, for instance,
different calculations based on ranges or levels of values. This calls
for nested/multiple IF functions. You can also nest other functions
within an IF function as needed to create your logical condition. For
instance, an IF function might apply a condition to the results of a SUM
or AVERAGE function.
For example, the following IF function works with these options:
- If the value is less than $25,000, multiply by 10%
- If the value is less than $50,000 but at least $25,000, multiply
- Otherwise (the value is greater than $50,000), multiply by 30%
The formula would look like:
NOTE: When nesting with any worksheet function, the equals sign is
only required with the initial function statement, i.e. the 2nd IF in
our nested formula does not need an equals sign. You can use up to 64
levels (in Excel 2010 and Excel 2007 only; 7 levels in Excel 2003) of
nesting in a formula but that's a lot of nesting!
Complex Functions Don't Have to be Complicated
Ready for some more function fun? The IF function can be combined
with AND, OR, NOT functions to create more detailed evaluations that
apply multiple conditions where all expressions are true (AND), only one
expression needs to be true (OR), or the opposite (NOT) is true.
Looking at the breakout of Excel functions is an easy way to learn
how to create your own especially with nested functions. This next
example, shown below, is designed to test:
- If cell B2 is between 750 and less than 1000 (AND), enter 75 in
- If cell B2 is greater than or equal to 1000, enter 100 in cell
- Otherwise, enter 0 in cell (the not true/false portion)
Grab your own detailed reference on how you can create your own IF
functions in Excel:
© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®
Dawn Bjork Buzbee
is The Software Pro®
and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office
Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist
(MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart
and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software
speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.
This article and
more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with
copyright and attribution.
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