IF Functions offer terrific flexibility in formulas because they allow you to test a cell and return two possible results. The easiest way to understand IF Functions is to picture a typical school grading scale *(at right)*. The IF function syntax is actually fairly easy to understand, even though we’re working with an advanced function.

IF(logical_test,value_if_true,value_if_false)

The sample above reflects a standard IF Function. Now, let’s break this down:

IF = Name of the Function

Logical_Test = What cell are you looking at and what is the test?

Value_if_true = If your test is True, what result would you like to see?

Value_if_false = If your test is False, what result would you like to see?

That’s it!

Let’s put that into action using our grading scale example. I’d like Excel to look at a student’s grade. And, if they have a score higher than 93 (an “A”), I’d like Excel to display the word “Congratulations.” However, if their score is anything else, I’d like Excel to display the words “Keep Working.”

Here’s what my formula would look like in Excel:

=IF(B2>93,“Congratulations”,“Keep Working”)

Let’s do one more.

This time, we’ll have Excel perform a calculation if the logical test is true. Let’s assume a salary increase calculation of 15% only IF an employee scores higher than 4 on a performance evaluation.

Here’s what my formula would look like in Excel:

=IF(C12>4,B12*1.15,“Sorry. You didn’t receive a raise this year.”)