Excel Tip of the Month - May 2017: IF Function
By Aaron Cooper, Partner, Brown Smith Wallace

Highly flexible, yet simplistic is the best way to describe the Microsoft Excel IF function. The IF function is used to test for or evaluate a condition, and then return one value if the condition is TRUE, or another value if the condition is FALSE. 

The IF function is a built-in Logical Function in Excel. As a worksheet function, the IF function can be entered as part of a formula in a cell of a worksheet.

The IF function has 3 arguments, but only the first one is mandatory, the other two are optional.

1. logical_test - a value or logical expression that is either TRUE or FALSE. In this argument, you can specify a text value, date, number, or any comparison operator. For example, your logical test can be expressed as B1="sold", B1<12/1/2014, B1=10 or B1>10.

2. value_if_true - the value Excel will put in a cell if the test evaluates to TRUE. For example, the following formula will return the text "Good" if a value in cell B1 is greater than 10: =IF(B1>10, "Good").

3. value_if_false - the value Excel will put in a cell if the test evaluates to FALSE. For example, if you add "Bad" as the third parameter to the above formula, it will return the text "Good" if a value in cell B1 is greater than 10, otherwise, it will return "Bad": =IF(B1>10, "Good", "Bad").

The next time you need to test a condition in Excel, remember to utilize the IF function since it provides endless possibilities due to its flexibility and simplicity.

Aaron is a partner in the Brown Smith Wallace Insurance Advisory Services practice. He is a regular content contributor to IASA national and the St. Louis chapter. You can reach Aaron at acooper@bswllc.com.