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Formulas in Excel can include operators that combine arguments to produce intermediate results that are used to evaluate the formula. You really already know about operators, but you may be unfamiliar with the use of this word in this way. Examples of arithmetic operators are +, , /, and *, which are, respectively, addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. You know how these work — let’s look at some new ones.
Operators do their work on operands. For example, in the expression “1+3”, 1 is the first operand and 3 is the second operand.
Some operators are called “infix” operators. Examples of infix operators are the arithmetic operators you’re familiar with. Another infix operator is the exponent operator used for powers of numbers. For example, the formula 4^2 means the same as 4^{2}. These operators are called infix because they sit “in between” their operands.
Some operators are “matchfix” operators. They come in pairs, like the left and right parentheses. For example, 2*(4+1) is an operator expression that evaluates to 10. It contains two arithmetic operators, * and +, and two matchfix operators, “(” and “)” for grouping. Another of Excel’s matchfix operators is the pair of doublequotes ("). In Excel, doublequote pairs are used to encase character strings. For example "qwerty" is a character string constant, wrapped in doublequotes, which are Excel’s string grouping operators.
There are other operators in Excel that you might not have run into before. For example, the ampersand (&) joins, or concatenates, two strings together. "qwerty"&"234" evaluates to "qwerty234".
The three reference operators are the range operator, the union operator, and the intersection operator. They’re represented respectively by the characters colon (range), comma (union), and space (intersection). All three are infix operators.
The range operator (colon), which is an infix operator, is used to join two cell references to make a range reference. The resulting range is the rectangle formed by the first operand and the second operand. A1:D5 defines the range from A1 to D5. The range reference A1:A1 isn’t illegal — but it’s degenerate. It’s exactly the same as A1. The expression C:C is the (relative) reference to column C.
There are two other reference operators. They’re also used to combine references in ways that produce new references.
The first is the intersection operator (space), which is an infix operator. When it’s inserted between two references, it returns the intersection of those two references. The references can be single cells, ranges, or complex combinations of references constructed with any of the reference operators. They can also be the results of any macro or worksheet function that returns a reference, such as offset or index. The intersection of two ranges is the set of cells that lie in both ranges. It can be either a single cell or a (possibly discontiguous) collection of cells. If two references don’t intersect at all, Excel returns a #NULL! error value. In Figure 1, the cell C4 is the intersection of B2:C4 and C4:D7.
The last reference operator is union, represented by a comma. Like intersection and range, it too is an infix operator and returns a reference. Just as intersection creates and returns the intersection of two references, union creates and returns the union of two references. The union of two references is the collection of cells that lie in either one (or both) of the references. For example, (B2:C4,C4:D7) is a reference to all the cells in either of the two rectangular ranges shaded in Figure 1.
As an exercise, see if you agree that C2:C7=(B2:C4,C4:D7) C:C.
Believe it or not, Excel has 16 infix operators, 5 matchfix operators, 3 prefix operators and a postfix operator.
+  addition 
  subtraction 
*  multiplication 
/  division 
^  exponentiation 
>  is greater than 
<  is less than 
=  is equal to 
>=  is greater than or equal to 
<=  is less than or equal to 
<>  is not equal to 
&  concatenation of strings 
Space  reference intersection 
Comma (,)  reference union 
Colon (:)  range reference defined by two cell references 
!  separate worksheet name from reference 
Left Side  Right Side  Operation 
"  "  string constant 
{  }  array constant 
(  )  arithmetic grouping or function arguments or reference grouping 
'  '  grouping worksheet name 
[  ]  grouping workbook name, or relative reference in R1C1 style 
%  percentage 
  negative 
+  plus 
$  Next component of an A1 reference is absolute 
Last Modified: Wednesday, 27Apr2016 04:15:26 EDT
The space character, in many cases, doesn’t change the value of a formula. For instance, these two formulas return the same value:
Some people think that wellplaced spaces make formulas easier to read. Although that might be true, the practice is both inconvenient and extremely dangerous. More
Excel’s online help, and many of the howto books you can buy, provide long lists of keystroke shortcuts for carrying out specific operations, such as inserting rows, selecting regions, or deleting columns. And they are useful.
But the true power of the keyboard comes not from using these particular commands. Rather, it comes from learning combinations that are useful for particular situations that you encounter frequently.
For instance, there’s no command for deleting the rows that contain the selected cells, but there is a combination:
And so, Shift+Space Ctrl+ deletes the rows containing the selection.
Learning a vast array of keystroke commands is probably less useful than learning the keystroke combinations that do exactly what you need to do most often.