VirtuallyUseful – Random Tech Babble

October 19, 2017

Blogtober Post 1 – Recommended functions to start learning Excel with

Filed under: Excel — Ray Olander @ 6:52 PM

With all the possible things to learn in Excel, people often wonder where to even start. I have been using Excel for a very long time now, and the following are the functions I use to do probably a good 90% of all my work. If you can learn these, you’ll be amazed at how many things you’ll be able to use Excel for. I wouldn’t say learning these will SAVE your job, but they can most definitely get you noticed.

This is a list of the functions that I use on a daily basis:

String operations: LEFT, RIGHT, MID, LEN, TRIM, FIND, VLOOKUP, and CONCATENATE (the short version I prefer is simply the & symbol)

Logical operations: IF, NOT, ISERROR, AND, OR

Sum/count operations: SUM, COUNTA, COUNTIF

Here are examples and explanations for each of the functions:

LEFT(cell, number of characters to select from the beginning of the line)

Returns a specified number of characters from the left-most character in a string

RIGHT(cell, number of characters to select from the end of the line)

Returns a specified number of characters from the right-most character in a string

MID(cell, where in the string to start, how many characters to select)

Returns a specified number of characters from a given starting position within a string

LEN(cell you want to find the length of the text in)

Returns the length of a string


TRIM(the output of one of the above functions)

Removes white spaces from the beginning and end of a string


FIND(What text to find, in what cell to look, starting at what position)

Return the position value of a character or string found within another string


VLOOKUP(what test to find, where to look for it, offset from located value to read, return exact (false) or similar (true) results)

Return a separate value in a table offset by a specified amount in the same row as the index value found within the table


CONCATENATE(text1,text2,…) (or & & etc… which I’ll show later)

Combine two or more values


IF(condition(s) to evaluate, what to do if true, what to do is false)

Take different actions based on the result of one or more conditional statements


NOT(whatever is being evaluated)

Invert the results


ISERROR(whatever is being evaluated)

Returns a true or false based on a wide array of possible errors you might receive



All conditions evaluated must be true in order for the outcome to be true


Any condition being true causes the outcome to be true



Adding up numbers to get a value


Check how many cells in a range are not empty

Opposite of countblank

COUNTIF(range, criteria)

Checks how many cells match one given criteria

Countifs is the formula to use to evaluate multiple criteria



Stay tuned for Blogtober post 2 where I apply a number of the above commands to the same syslog entry use in the previous examples to parse out the firewall name,

and to show how to breakdown that formula, or any formula, to better understand what it is doing.

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