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• Lowell

# A Cat Can't Concatenate, But Excel Can

The Excel CONCATENATE function lets you link or string together text and calculations. I use a simple target heart rate formula in the example below to illustrate the CONCATENATE function.

Target heart rate is generally defined as the beneficial beats per minute (BPM) during exercise. It is calculated by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying the results by 50% and 85% to find your target BPM range.

Below is a screenshot of a simple Excel target heart rate calculation . Your age is entered in cell B1. The maximum heart rate formula “=220-B1” without the quotes is in cell B2. It shows the maximum heart rate for a 72 year-old by subtracting the age from 220. Excel formulas always begin with the = sign.

The formula in cell A3 is:

="Your target heart rate is "&0.5*B2&" to "&0.85*B2 & " BPM"

Note that text is surrounded by beginning and ending quotes - numbers and cell references do not require quotes. Also, notice the space characters after “between,” before and after “to,” and before BPM. So, where is the word CONCATENATE? The ampersand (&) character represents it. It is much easier to type & than CONCATENATE and I'm less likely to misspell &. The & also shortens formulas, making them easier to read. The expressions “0.5*B2” and 0.85*B2 calculate 50% and 85% of your maximum heart rate. The * means multiplication in Excel.

Finally, notice how, even though the formula is in cell A3, its results spill over into columns B & C. This is normal Excel behavior. If I typed something into cell B3, then cell A3 would display only “Your target heart rate is.”

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