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 several uses. Firstly you can use it to generate the total or SUM of a series of numbers. To do this, you can select a row of cells and click once on the AutoSum tool. Excel places the total of the highlighted cells in the first available empty cell to the right of the highlighted range. You can then copy the formula by using the Autofill handle. As you drag down, Excel will copy the formula making the changes necessary to return the correct total for each row.
The AutoSum tool can also be used to return the total of several columns simultaneously. To do this, just select all the data in each of the columns you wish to total and then click once on the AutoSum tool. Excel generates a formula at the bottom of each column in the first empty 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 failed to guess, you can correct it: either by typing the correct reference; or simply resize the selection rectangle until it encloses the correct range of cells then press the Enter key or click on the Enter button located on the left of the formula bar. The formula can then be copied using the AutoFill handle.
The AVERAGE function is famous for generating too many decimal places. If you want the number of decimals to be consistent, click on the Launch button in the Number section of the Home Tab, choose “Number” as the format and then choose the number of decimal places you like.
The remaining functions available on the AutoSum tool are COUNT, which tells you the number of cells in the highlighted range containing numbers; MAX, which returns the highest value in the range; and MIN which brings up the lowest value. The final option in the AutoSum tool drop-down menu reads “Other Functions”. It gives you full access to Excel’s dazzling range of functions.
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