The basic “IF” function

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The IF function is one of the first formulas you should learn to use.

In basic English it says:

IF something happens do this, otherwise do that. For example, depending on whether our bank balance is positive or negative there is a different interest so graphically this is what it may look like.


In Excel it can be used in a number of places. We use it to:

  • create alternate scenarios
  • take different actions depending on a cell number
  • error checks e.g. is the balance sheet balancing, do the percentages add up to 100%

A useful example is a bank account.

Let's say that if you have a negative balance (overdraft) the bank will charge you 10% and if you have a positive balance they will give you 6%. The problem is that in a spreadsheet the bank balance could be negative or positive and it can change.

So what we need is a function that will allow for this. The IF function allows for this.

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