Answer: 14

Surprised? Did you think it was 20? It’s not. Try it in Excel if you need proof. Type =2+3*4 and the answer is 14.

Excel calculates according to an order of precedence which isn’t necessarily left to right. In this calculation it performs multiplication first and then the addition, hence the answer: 3 times 4 is 12 add 2 is 14.

To learn more about it, look up Order of Precedence in Excel Help.

In the meantime, the short explanation is that it performs things in brackets first, then percents, exponents (as in squared and cubed), multiplication and division, then addition and subtraction. If you have two of the same such as an addition and a subtraction they’re done left to right. So, to force the calculation to perform your way, put things in brackets when you want them done first.

In our case, to get an answer of 20, write the formula =(2+3)*4

Helen Bradley