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Intro to boolean logic

In this video, I'm going to show you the basics of boolean logic. Boolean logic is a great tool for simplifying formulas, especially those with many IF statements.

So, to start off, what's a boolean?

A boolean is a data type with only two possible values, TRUE or FALSE.

You'll often see boolean results, or boolean expressions in Excel.

For example, if I enter the formula =B4>30 here, we'll get the boolean result TRUE.

So, B4>30 is a boolean expression - or logical statement - that returns TRUE or FALSE.

If I copy the formula down, we get boolean result for each number.

What's interesting about boolean values is that they have numeric equivalents.

During a math operation, Excel will coerce booleans into numbers, TRUE becomes 1, and FALSE becomes zero.

I can prove this with a formula that simply adds zero to the values in column C. 

Zero plus any number is the same number, so you can see that TRUE is equivalent to 1 and FALSE is equivalent to zero.

So, how can we use this in Excel?

Let's look at simple example.

Here we have a list of salespeople and sales numbers. Let's say they get a bonus of $500 if they exceed 10000 in sales.

One way to handle that with a formula is to write:

=IF(sales > 10000, 500, 0)

which works fine.

But how could we use boolean logic instead?

Well, sales greater than 10000 is a logical expression that returns TRUE or FALSE.

That means we can just rewrite the formula like this:

=(sales > 10000) * 500

So, that's nice. We got rid of the IF statement.

But perhaps a little silly, just to get rid of a single IF statement.

Yes, so let's add a little complexity.

What if there were a special $250 bonus for sales over 12000?

In that case, you might see a nested IF formula like this:


What about a boolean version?

Well, with boolean logic, we simply write write:


No branching. No IF statements. Excel simply runs the calculation and returns the result.

So that's the gist of boolean logic.

Look for opportunities to use it in your formulas.

I can be a great great way to unwind and simply complex formulas.


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Dave Bruns

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