Microsoft Excel update could change the way you build formulas forever

Microsoft Excel
(Image credit: Shutterstock / 200dgr)

Making the most out of Microsoft Excel could get a lot easier thanks to a new upgrade from the software giant.

The process of learning how to effectively use a spreadsheet isn't exactly what we would call beginner-friendly, but with Microsoft's latest announcement on December 3, things are set to get easier.

The new LAMBDA feature will allow you to create your own customized functions using Microsoft Excel's formula language, removing the need to write them in a programming language like JavaScript.

Custom re-usable functions

Confused? What this will mean for many office users is that you can take any formula you’ve built in Excel, wrap it up in a LAMBDA function, and give it a name (for example =GETLOCATION as below). If your role requires you to perform repetitive formulas, this will streamline your spreadsheet process without you having to resort to copy and paste, or recording macros.

Reusable functions are reason enough to get excited for the new possibilities of Excel, but there’s another interesting advantage to LAMBDA: you can do recursion, repeating over a set of logic at a dynamically defined interval. This is something that was only previously possible in Excel through manually running a script like VBA or JavaScript.


An example of a custom function (=GETLOCATION) using LAMBDA (Image credit: Microsoft)

To create your own customized functions or recursions you'll need to sign up to the Microsoft Office Insider program and select the Beta Channel to get early access to LAMBDA, and this is available on Microsoft Windows and Mac builds of Excel.

You can also post feedback from your experience to the Excel Tech Community, to help improve and develop these new Excel features as they're being rolled out.

Via MSPowerUser

Jess Weatherbed

Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.