How to Use IF...

Don't be intimidated by your spreadsheet

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Since last we spoke I’ve run Strolling Jim, a 41.2 mile road race.

It was my second time running one of the oldest ultras around (46th annual), and though my finish time was almost exactly the same as last year, I was a lot more consistent (slower out of the gate) and had a better day.

Now to the sheets…

You may be intimidated by some of the functions in Excel and Google Sheets. Sure, you can SUM() with the best of them, but when it comes to having to do something more complicated than simple arithmetic, your knees start shaking.

Fear not.

You can unlock some very powerful, time-saving techniques when you learn a few key tools.

Unlocking the power of IF() and some of it's friends (SUMIF, COUNTIF, AVERAGEIF, DATEDIF, etc) allows you to get a lot more mileage out of a simple spreadsheet.

Today we’ll look at how to use IF() in its bare form.

Scroll down for the 38 second video version👇

How to use the IF function

We’re all familiar with the logic behind IF().

IF you do your job, THEN you will get paid.

IF you pick up your room, THEN you may play outside.

IF you love me, THEN I will love….wait a sec, that’s not how that one works.

In the realm of spreadsheets and numbers, IF works the same way. Let’s look at a small example with some fake salary data.

fake salary data

We’ve got a randomly generated list of people’s salaries. Suppose we are in charge of submitting insurance data to an actuarial firm in a very specific format.

We need to indicate which people make over $100,000 in salary. And we must indicate this in a new column with either Y or N.

IF lets us do this very easily. The way IF works is by giving the function three things:

  1. A logical expression that evaluates to true or false (e.g. D2 >= 100000)

  2. A value if that expression is true (e.g. “Y”)

  3. A value if that expression is false (e.g. “N”)

We simply create a true or false statement as the “logical expression” and then type what we want the value to be in the case of true as well as in the case of false.


IF function

Now, instead of manually checking the salary column, we can drag the function down and quickly fill in all 1000 rows of data.

drag function down

after dragging function down

We’ll dive into more detail for using IF in combination with other functions in the upcoming issues of Got Sheet!

Practice using it today in one of your spreadsheets, though.

And don’t be afraid to bookmark this page and video. I’ve had to revisit basic and advanced concepts many times, especially when I don’t use them regularly.

I hope this unlocks some value for you in your own work and allows you to save some time!

Thank you so much!

It means a lot that you’ve read this, and I hope it’s informed and/or entertained you for a few moments today!

Would love to say hi. Here are the best places to find me:

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