# Formula

A **formula** is an expression telling the computer what mathematical operation to perform upon a specific value. When referring to computer software, formulas are most often used in spreadsheet programs, such as Microsoft Excel. Using formulas in spreadsheets can allow you to quickly make calculations and get totals of multiple cells, rows, or columns in a spreadsheet.

In the picture below is an example of a Microsoft Excel formula **=SUM(A$1:A$3)**, which adds the total of cells A1,A2, and A3. In this formula, SUM is the function of the formula.

Tip: Press the shortcut key **Shift + F3** to open the Excel Formula or Insert Function window.

Note: A formula will not be seen unless the cell is selected.

## Related pages

- Help, examples, and information on Excel formulas.
- Getting #DIV/0! in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
- Type an equal sign in a spreadsheet without doing a formula.
- Microsoft Excel help and support.

**Also see:** Absolute cell reference, Autosum, Formula bar, Lookup, Range, Relative cell reference, Sum, Whatif