Excel is a useful tool any time you want to analyze or manipulate data. I use it regularly and thought I would create a few posts about its usefulness.

Excel uses formulae to perform its calculations. You begin a formula with the equal sign (=) and then you can tell Excel to do a bunch of things, one of which is add numbers in a row or column.

In order to do that, you use the **SUM** formula.

The SUM formula is generally used on a range of cells.

For example the formula **=SUM(A1:A5)** will add the first five numbers column A.

If you had the numbers **10, 20, -15, 25,** and **30** in the first column, using **=SUM(A1:A5)** would generate **60** as your total.

Now let’s imagine that you only want the positive numbers to be added. You can use the **SUMIF** formula to accomplish that. Taking the same numbers above: 10, 20, -15, 25, and 30, using **=SUMIF(A1:A5,>0)** would generate **85** as your total.

There is a third piece to the SUMIF function that lets you compare non-numerical information, and then add the numbers that match. For example if you had a list of T-shirts in different colors and sizes, and you wanted to grab your totals by size or by color, you would use **SUMIF**.

To give an example, the formula in **F4** would read:

**=SUMIF(A1:A16,E4,C1:C16)**

So let’s take the parts of that:

- The first part is – look at the information in column A, which is the color column
- The second part is – compare that information against E4, which is Maroon
- The third part is – take the numbers from the quantity column to add up the total number of Maroon T-shirts

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