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Get instant function help

As an Excel user, you know how to find and resolve errors in your own sheets, but what happens if you're troubleshooting a sheet created by someone else, and you're not sure what the functions or its arguments mean? There are several ways to find this information, but one in particular will get you instant help about the function--as well as the opportunity to update the function's arguments--in one mouse click.

The trick is simple: Click on any cell that contains a function call, then click the Standard toolbar's Paste Function icon (it looks like a lower-case "f" followed by an "x"). When you do, Excel opens an editing window for the function you used in your formula. In that window, you can click on and edit any of the function's arguments.

The window also displays an onscreen explanation of each argument. For instance, if the current cell contains =ABS(B2), click the Paste Function icon to open an editing window for the ABS function.

If your formula contains nested function calls, click Paste Function to display an editing window for the outermost function call. You can display editing windows for the nested functions by clicking on them in the Formula bar.

For example, if the current cell contains =ABS(MAX(A2,B2)), clicking the Paste Function icon will display the editing screen for ABS, and MAX(A2,B2) will appear as the argument for ABS. To go directly from the ABS window to the MAX window, click anywhere on MAX(A2,B2) in the Formula bar.

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