
Called the Paste Function dialog in older versions, but the Insert Function dialog in newer versions, this dialog box is used to insert or paste the selected function into the chosen cell. The big advantage to using this feature comes as you become more comfortable writing Excel formulas. Initially it is most beneficial because it can be used as a stepbystep guide for each argument in a function. What this means is, if you are going to be using a simple function such as the SUM, MIN, MAX etc. , it really serves no purpose. When writing slightly harder functions such as COUNTIF, SUMIF etc. , it can aid greatly.
Let’s display the Insert Function dialog and have a superficial look at it. There are three methods we can use to show this dialog box and which one you use is purely optional. The three methods are:
 Going to Insert>Function
 Push Shift + F3
 Click the Insert Function icon to the left of your Formula bar (Fx), or for older version users, click the Paste Function icon on your Standard toolbar.
Once activated you will see the Insert Function dialog pop up in front of you. Depending on which version of Excel you are using, these heading names may vary slightly in this dialog box.
Search for a Function
Type a brief description of what you want to do in this box, then click Go to view a list of appropriate Functions.
Or Select A Category
In this dialog box you will see the Category Names that the Functions are grouped in. Click All to see a list of All Functions displayed in the Select A Function: box in alphabetical order. Click Most Recently Used to see a list of the last 10 functions used in the Select a Function: box.
Help
In the bottom left hand corner you will see either Excels standard help button (question mark), or the words Help on this Function. If you click this you will be presented with a description of how the selected Function works from Excel's Help.
To see how this works, Select All Under Or Select a Category: then Click on SUMIF under Select A Function.
The help screen that is displayed will give you most of the relevant information for the selected function, in this case SUMIF. All function help descriptions are uniform in that they will show the syntax, a description of the arguments and an example. We strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with the Function Help as it can be very helpful once you are aware of the terminology used, hence my explanations on arguments, syntax, ranges, text values etc.
Most Excel users shudder at the thought of using the help to get their answers, but this is most likely because they feel intimidated by the jargon Excel uses. Please do your utmost to not become one of these, as the Excel help will always be your best source of help. If there are any terms used by the Excel help you are uncertain of you can always ask us.
For now close the SUMIF help and click the Cancel on the Insert Function dialog box. Let’s try this simple exercise to see how the Insert Function can help in writing a formula. The purpose of this exercise is more to show you how to use the Insert Function as opposed to the SUMIF function itself.
This is because we have told the SUMIF to sum all cells in the range A1:A7 if the corresponding cell in B1:B7 has a word beginning with the letter "B".
The method in which we used the Insert Function for the SUMIF is the same principle we would use for all Functions written by using the Insert function dialog. As I stated before we began the above steps, the point of the exercise was to demonstrate the way in which the Insert Function can aid us in writing formulas.
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