The Truth about TRUE and FALSE in Excel


This blog will refer to IF formulas quite a bit, and for good reason--they're important for doing almost anything interesting in Excel!  But it's first important to realize that the whole world of conditional statements relies on a foundational concept that has traditionally been the province of philosophers:  the concept of TRUE and FALSE.

Microsoft Excel doesn't treat a cell containing the words "TRUE" or "FALSE" as regular ol' text strings.  These are values--if we want to get technical about it, they are called Boolean values.  They have special properties that we can use in mathematical formulas (TRUE has a number value of 1 and FALSE has a number value of 0), logical functions (AND, OR), and conditional functions (IF).

Let's look at a few examples:

All of the examples on the left yield a Boolean value of TRUE.  These include just typing the word "TRUE" (not case sensitive), typing a true equality (1=1) after an equals sign, typing a true inequality (5>4) after an equals sign, or evaluating a true logical function (AND(1=1,2=2)).  See the righthand column for the counterparts of each TRUE example that evaluate to FALSE.

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