Software & Apps Google Drive Google Sheets Formula Tutorial Save time in Google Sheets by Ted French Writer Former Lifewire writer Ted French is a Microsoft Certified Professional who teaches and writes about spreadsheets and spreadsheet programs. our editorial process Ted French Updated on December 02, 2020 Google Drive Sheets Docs Slides Tweet Share Email Google Sheets formulas perform calculations on spreadsheet data. You can use formulas for basic number-crunching, such as addition or subtraction, and more complex calculations, such as payroll deductions or test averages. One considerable advantage of using a spreadsheet is that its formulas are dynamic: If you change the spreadsheet's data, the answer will be recalculated automatically wherever it appears without you having to re-enter the formula. Creating a Basic Formula: Start With the Equal Sign The steps for creating a basic formula are the same ones to follow when writing more complex formulas. In our sample formula, we'll first add the numbers 5 and 3 and then subtract 4. Type the following data into the appropriate cells: A1 : 3A2 : 2A3 : 4 Select cell A4. Type the equal sign ( = ) in cell A4. When creating a formula in a Google spreadsheet, you always start by typing the equal sign in the cell where you want the answer to appear. asdf Following the equal sign, enter A1 + A2 - A3 and press Enter. Using the cell references of data in the formula will automatically update the answer if the data in cells A1, A2, or A3 changes. Using Pointing to Add Cell References The best way to add cell references is to use a feature called point and click, which allows you to click on the cell containing your data to add its cell reference to the formula. Type the equal sign ( = ) in cell A4. Select cell A1 with the mouse pointer to enter the cell reference into the formula. Type a plus ( + ) sign. Select cell A2 with the mouse pointer to enter the cell reference into the formula. Type a minus ( - ) sign. Select cell A3 with the mouse pointer to enter the cell reference into the formula. Press Enter on your keyboard. The answer should appear in cell A4. Select cell A4. The complete formula is shown in the formula bar above the worksheet. Mathematical Operators in a Google Sheets Formula As seen in previous steps, writing a formula in a Google spreadsheet is not difficult. Just combine the cell references of your data with the correct mathematical operator. The mathematical operators used in Google Sheets (and Microsoft Excel) formulas are similar to those used in math class: Subtraction - minus sign (-)Addition - plus sign (+)Division - forward-slash (/)Multiplication - asterisk (*)Exponentiation - caret (^) The Google Sheets Order of Operations If more than one operator is used in a formula, Google Sheets follows a specific order of operations, which you can change by adding brackets to the equation. An easy way to remember the order of operations is to use the acronym BEDMAS: BracketsExponentsDivisionMultiplicationAdditionSubtraction Any operation(s) contained in brackets will be carried out first, followed by any exponents. After that, Google Sheets considers division or multiplication operations equally important and carries out these operations in the order they occur, left to right, in the equation. The same goes for the next two operations: addition and subtraction. They are considered equal in the order of operations. Whichever appears first in an equation is carried out first.