What is true and false in Excel?

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What is true and false in Excel?

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The TRUE and FALSE Excel functions

Some of Excel's most powerful tools are called "Conditional Functions". Formulas utilizing Conditional Functions do different things depending on whether certain criteria are met. For example, a streaming music company could calculate the monthly payment due for a particular customer based on whether they subscribe to the Standard or Premium plan.

At the heart of Conditional Functions lie Excel'sTRUEandFALSEfunctions.TRUEandFALSEare "Boolean Functions", which means that they help us understand whether a given statement or claim is actually true or not.

Let's take a look at the basics of Boolean Functions in Excel.

TRUE and FALSE with operators

Let's start by using Excel'sTRUEandFALSEfunctionality to evaluate a statement. Take a look at the following:=(6=6)
Output: TRUE

The preceding formula is a great example of Boolean Functions in action. After the initial equals sign, which denotes that we are typing a formula into Excel, we write (6=6). That may seem obvious to us, but Excel treats the statement within the parentheses as a question that needs to be verified as eitherTRUEorFALSE. The output of this formula is the operatorTRUE, because it's true that the number 6 is equal to the number 6.

Take a look at another example, in which the statement we input into Excel is evaluated asFALSE:=(6=3)
Output: FALSE

Excel evaluates this statement asFALSEbecause, as you've likely guessed, the number six is not equal to the number three.Here's the cool part about Boolean Functions: They can do much more than check to see whether two values are equal to each other. We can use a number of operators besides=to test the truth of statements. Check out our tutorial on Excel logical operators for the complete list.

TRUE and FALSE on their own

We can also useTRUEandFALSEon their own, without having to evaluate the truth of a particular statement. Take, for example, the following simple formula, which just fills a cell with the defaultTRUEvalue:=TRUE()
Output: TRUE

We can also do it withFALSE:=FALSE()
Output: FALSE

It may not make sense just yet why you would want to set a cell value to simplyTRUEorFALSE, but this will come in handy later on when we start to take a look atIFstatements in Excel.

Leaving off the parentheses

Since theTRUEandFALSEfunctions are used so commonly within Excel, Microsoft has provided us with a handy shortcut: we can leave off the parentheses after the functions, and they'll work just the same. Take a look at the following examples:=TRUE
Output: TRUE=FALSE
Output: FALSE

No parentheses required!

TRUE and FALSE within logical statements

We can also use Excel'sTRUEandFALSEfunctions within logical statements of their own. Check out the following:=(TRUE=TRUE)
Output: TRUE

The previous code block returnsTRUEbecause theTRUEfunction is, indeed equal to itself. Let's see what happens when we try to equate theTRUEandFALSEfunctions:=(TRUE=FALSE)
Output: FALSE

As you might expect,TRUEandFALSEare not equal to each other, so this formula evaluates asFALSE.

Numerical values of TRUE and FALSE

Here's one more interesting tip about theTRUEandFALSEfunctions: they're also numbers. In Excel, the functionTRUEis equivalent to the number1, and the functionFALSEis equal to the number0. That's a bit confusing when we think about it, so let's take a look at a couple of examples to help understand what's going on:

First, theTRUEfunction in Excel is equivalent to the number1 they can be used interchangably. That means that if we multiplyTRUEby any numberx, we should getxas an output. Take a look:=TRUE() * 8
Output: 8=TRUE() * 18
Output: 18

It may seem strange to multiply a number byTRUE, but it makes sense when you consider the fact thatTRUEis a function  and can be multiplied in a formula just like any other function.

Similarly, since theFALSEfunction in Excel is equivalent to the number0, multiplyingFALSEby any number should return0. Let's check it out:=FALSE() * 8
Output: 0=FALSE() * 18
Output: 0

The reason behind this strange use of functions traces back tomachine language the most fundamental code that computers use to operate. Machine language uses the binary system (a way of communicating using only the numbers1and0) to construct virtually everything that happens on our computers and devices today. In other words, everything you're reading on this screen, at its base, is represented by your computer by1s and0s  in other words,TRUEandFALSEfunctions.Have a good handle on how Boolean Functions work? Check out our tutorial on Excel logical operators to take your Conditional Formulas to the next level.

Save an hour of work a day with these 5 advanced Excel tricks

Work smarter, not harder. Sign up for our 5-day mini-course to receive must-learn lessons on getting Excel to do your work for you.

  • How to create beautiful table formatting instantly...
  • Why to rethink the way you do VLOOKUPs...
  • Plus, we'll reveal why you shouldn't use PivotTables and what to use instead...First Name E-mail Address Website
    Send Me Lesson #1!

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