Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (Order of Operations)

I usually receive a fair amount of blank stares from some of my students after blurting out “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.” This mnemonic comes during my Excel classes order of operations lesson. Excel does not necessarily read formulas left to right as the English language does. So thus this post on the order of operations.  I can still remember from my 8th grade pre-algebra teacher mentioning to our class “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” as a helpful guide to remember to order. So here is goes:

Please  (Parenthesis)

Excuse (Exponents)

My (Multiplication)

Dear (Division)

Aunt (Addition)

Sally (Subtraction)

Put everything in parenthesis if you want Excel to calculate it first. Then the order shifts to exponents. After that you multiply and divide before addition and subtraction.

In my two examples below I’m using the same number yet will get different outcomes based on how I write the formula.

Example A


= 1 + 6



Example B


= 3 * 3



About Steve Chase

I'm a proud husband and dad to 4 boys! Microsoft Certified Trainer and Boy Scout Leader are some of things I call myself. The Cincinnati Reds are my favorite team! When not outdoors, I enjoy working with documents in Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, Visio and Photoshop. My wife, Erin, shares her awesome recipes on her blog at
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2 Responses to Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (Order of Operations)

  1. Love it – great way to remember order of operations, Steve. Thanks for sharing!

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