How to Nest Functions in Excel

This article will show you how to nest functions in Microsoft Excel.  The most important thing to remember here is that and function within Excel can be put into any other function in Excel.  You should never think of a function as a singular element that must be by itself within a cell.

Basically functions are meant to be used within each other and in conjunction with each other.  The best example of this is seen with the IF statement function in Excel.  This function is used to add some logic to your spreadsheet and to, basically, make a decision.  If this, do that, otherwise do something (output something) else.

Let’s say that you want to check if a project or a bill is overdue and output “Overdue” if it is.  You can use an IF statement in conjunction with the TODAY() function to check for this.  If the due date is located in cell A1, this is what the resulting formula, with the nested TODAY() function will look like:

=IF(TODAY()>A1,"Overdue","On time")

IF statement syntax won’t be covered here, so let’s focus on the TODAY() function.  Note that it is simply typed within the IF function as if it were typed within any cell, except that you DO NOT include the leading equal sign.  So, to input the TODAY() function within a cell by itself, you would type =TODAY().  To input this into the IF function, you just type the same thing without the equals sign and there is really not much more to it.

If you are in Excel 2007 or later, as soon as you start typing the name of a function within another function you will notice that a drop down menu will appear with all possible functions given what you’ve spelled.  Just continue this and enter the function along with all of its arguments.  When finished, make sure to include the closing parenthesis.

The more functions that you nest within each other the more complicated this will get; however, always try to remember to include the closing parenthesis or else you will enter an incorrect formula.  This is especially important with you use text manipulation functions in Excel.  With these functions you will often want to get a dynamic result and this usually requires many nested functions.

Also, in previous versions of Excel (before 2007), you will not be able to enter more than seven nested functions within a given cell.  In 2007 and later, you have the ability to make significantly larger formulas with many more nested functions.

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