In my last tutorial I showed you Excel's T function, today we’re looking at the other one-letter function in Excel; the N function.
Funnily enough the N function was only provided for compatibility with other spreadsheet programs, but it does have one handy use if compatibility is not your raison d’etre.
The syntax is:
Depending on what the ‘value’ is Excel will return the following:
Now, you won’t have much use for this formula if you aren’t concerned with compatibility issues since Excel automatically converts values to the appropriate format when required. For example; dates are automatically converted to serial numbers when used in a formula.
But I wouldn’t be telling you all this if there wasn’t a clever use for it…
Excel N Function Trick – Embed Annotations in Your Formulas
You can use the N function in a nifty way to make notes within a formula to help you remember why you used a certain value or formula.
This trick relies on the fact that a text string returns a zero value. Take this for example:
=100*(1+10%)+N("10% was advised by Richard as the increase for 2011")
What this formula is actually doing:
As you can see the N function component of the formula has no impact on the result, but it allows you to insert an unobtrusive note in your spreadsheet that explains your rationale without the need for what can be annoying comments like this.