How to use the IF function in Microsoft Excel

Updated on: March 20, 2023

When you start using Excel, you find functions that can make your life easier when working on your worksheet, like the IF function. It is a versatile and valuable tool for data analysis and decision-making! But how does it works? Well, this article responds to these main concerns to learn how to use the IF function in Microsoft Excel:

  • What is a logical expression?
  • Insert and Syntaxis
  • Return different arguments

Keep reading because this article can help you to improve your following report!

What is a logical expression?

First, this operation involves evaluating a cell against a logical expression and yielding a specific outcome if the term is true and a different result if it is false. Nevertheless, what is a logical expression?

In Excel, you can write formulas in a cell to obtain information. But logical expressions determine whether a particular condition is true or false by comparing values using logical operators such as “equal to,” “greater than,” “less than,” etc., with their corresponding symbols:

  • =
  • >
  • <

This can be extremely useful in various scenarios, such as calculating commissions, analyzing sales data, or forecasting budgets. With the IF function, you can easily automate complex calculations, identify trends in your data, and gain valuable insights into your business operations.

Insert and Syntaxis

The IF function in Microsoft Excel allows you to perform conditional calculations within your worksheet. So, to start, open an Excel worksheet and choose the cell where you want the result of the IF function to appear, and type the next syntaxis:

=IF(logical_test, [value_if_true], [value_if_false]) Example: =IF(A1 > 10, "pass", "fail")

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Notice that, in the first argument, specify the condition you wish to test. This can be a value, a cell reference, or a formula that evaluates to TRUE or FALSE. For example: A1 > 100, B1 = "apple", or C1 + D1 > 200. Then, In the second argument, input the value you want if the condition is true. This can be a value, a cell reference, or a formula. For example: "pass," B2, or C1 + D1.

The third argument is optional, specifying the value you want to return if the condition is false. This can be a value, a cell reference, or a formula. 

Note: If you don’t conclude an argument, the function will return 0 if the condition is false, but at least one must be provided. This is necessary for Excel to know how to proceed.

Return different arguments

Notice that this function can be versatile. For example, instead of returning a specific value, it can configure the IF function to calculate a mathematical expression or Nested Excel IF statements. 

In the first case, with a mathematical expression, you can create flexible calculations that respond to changing conditions in your spreadsheet. to obtain that, you need to specify the expression as the value_if_true parameter. This parameter tells Excel what to do if the logical test set in the first parameter evaluates TRUE.

Let's say you're a manager who wants to incentivize employees who exceed a certain sales target. If an employee's sales exceed $10,000, you want to award them a bonus of $500. Otherwise, no bonus is awarded. You could use the IF function to achieve this as follows:


In this formula, the logical test is "sales>10000", which checks whether the employee's sales exceed $10,000. If this is true, the expression "500" is returned, which represents the bonus amount. On the other hand, if the logical test is false, the expression "sales" is produced, which means the employee's sales with no bonus awarded.

In the second case, we can construct a solitary formula that accommodates various scenarios when utilizing nested IF functions. A nested statement is formed by using one function as the input of another function.

Suppose you have a sales data table with columns for "Region," "Sales," and "Commission Rate." You want to calculate the commission earned by each salesperson based on their sales and the commission rate for their region. However, the commission rate varies depending on the sales amount. Here's how you can use nested IF statements to calculate the commission:

  1. First, determine the commission rate based on the sales amount. So, for example, if the sales amount is more significant than $10,000, the commission rate is 10%. If the sales amount is between $5,000 and $10,000, the commission rate is 8%. If the sales amount is less than $5,000, the commission rate is 5%.

You can use the following nested IF statement to calculate the commission rate:

This statement checks if the sales amount is greater than $10,000. If true, it returns a commission rate of 10%. If false, it moves on to the second IF statement to check if the sales amount exceeds $5,000. Again, if true, it returns a commission rate of 8%. If false, it will give you a commission rate of 5%.

  1. Next, you can multiply the sales amount by the commission rate to calculate the commission earned. For example, suppose the sales data table starts in cell A1, and the commission rate formula is in cell C2. Then, you can use the following formula in cell D2 to calculate the commission earned:

This formula multiplies the sales amount in cell A2 by the commission rate in cell C2 to calculate the commission earned.

Using these two formulas together, you can calculate the commission earned by each salesperson based on their sales and the commission rate for their region. Just copy and paste the formulas down the rows to calculate the commission for each salesperson.

It's important to note that the IF function is a fundamental aspect of more complicated calculations in Excel. Therefore, it is often combined with other operations such as AND, OR, and NOT.

In conclusion, the IF function is an essential feature in Microsoft Excel that offers numerous benefits in data analysis and decision-making. With the ability to test conditions and automate complex calculations, the IF function can help streamline workflows, increase productivity, and provide valuable insights into business operations. Whether you are a professional analyst, small business owner, or simply seeking to improve your data analysis skills, mastering the IF function in Excel can take your productivity and decision-making to new heights. So, don't hesitate to explore the power of the IF function and discover how it can enhance your data analysis and decision-making capabilities.

Do you want to know more?

So, whether you are a business owner, financial analyst, or simply looking to streamline your data analysis, mastering the IF function in Excel can take your productivity and decision-making to the next level.

If you want to know more, check out our Excel course at Skillademia! And find out how the COUNTIF function and how to find errors in Excel!

Lorena M. Rodas leverages her experience across film, writing, and production to make complex tech concepts accessible through storytelling. With a background spanning sci-fi, AI, and emerging tech, Lorena translates her depth of knowledge into engaging, educational content. She is an expert at decoding high-level topics to reach broad audiences.
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