How to choose the most suitable function/formula

Copper Contributor

Hello. I am an Excel (365) novice... and struggling.


What is the best way to select the most suitable function/formula for each Excel objective, please?




3 Replies


That is a very broad question, it is not possible to answer it. The 'most suitable' function depends on the context, there is no general recommendation.

If you have specific questions, we might be able to help you.

Or you might try ChatGPT...

One way to get better at picking the best function for a given situation is to practice using functions. You could come up with a project and solve it yourself and then share it with the community to get feedback and possible alternative solutions.



To add to what @Patrick2788 and @HansVogelaar have already said, back when I was learning how to use spreadsheets (in the 1980s) it was customary for the software producers to deliver their software with  extensive documentation printed in book form. I used to read through the manual for Lotus 1-2-3 at least once per year. And always I'd discover another way to do something that I was already doing in this or that spreadsheet. I'd realize that the clever programmers had given me (and all their users) several different ways to accomplish tasks. Some ways were slow and indirect; others fast and direct. 


This remains true today. It's not uncommon for several of us to offer solutions to specific questions that are posed here in this forum, and to realize that each solution is unique, and each works.


My point to your specific question is that there's rarely a single "most suitable" solution; better is to find the one you can understand. And to keep learning. Maybe, since the software makers no longer distribute their product on discs (well, maybe they do, but I've not gotten anything in that manner for a LOOONG time), now that they have only on-line of the best things you could do  would be to find a book that talks about how to use Excel in your line of work (or, if you're using it for personal reasons), in your area of interest.


There are books readily available on

Excel for Business Analytics

Excel for Strategic Planning,

Excel for Financial Analysis,

Excel for Project Management,

Excel as a Database Manager,


And maybe----one of a host of books explicitly for beginners.


But the suggestion made by @Patrick2788 is right on target: come up with something you'd like to do, lay it out on paper, and then figure out how to use Excel to accomplish it. Something relatively simple but useful: e.g., balance a checkbook, track family members' birthdays, budget a vacation trip and track the actual expenses against the budget.

Come up with a project you care about, and put it into Excel. Use whatever book makes most sense; you'll find most of the functions have names that intuitively will fit what you're looking for.