How to Use Trig Functions in Excel?

Trigonometry is a branch of mathematics that studies the relations between the elements (sides and angles) of a triangle. You might now be remembering many trigonometric formulas and equations you learned during your school or college days. Some of them are cot x = 1/tanx , six x/cos x = tan x, sin(900-x) - cos x and so on. Excel offers a number of built-in functions that deal with trigonometry. You can use these trig functions to solve complex trigonometric expressions.

The main thing you need to consider while solving trigonometric expressions is that Excel performs the calculations considering angle value in radians and not in degrees. You might know that sin 900 = 1 .So, if you enter the formula SIN (90) in Excel, the result will be .893997 and not 1 because Excel considers 90 as 90 radians and not 90 degrees. If you want to find the sine of 90 degrees, then you should first convert degrees into radians and then use the SIN formula available in Excel. Don’t worry, we are going to look at how to use trigonometric functions in Excel in minutes.

Excel provides functions for sine (sin), cosine (cos), tangent (tan), hyperbolic sine (sinh), hyperbolic cosine (cosh) and hyperbolic tangent (tanh). Excel does not provide functions for secant (sec), cosecant (cosec), cotangent (cot) and for their hyperbolic counterparts. However, you can calculate these functions using the core functions (sine and cosine). Excel also offers functions to convert angle from radians to degrees and vice versa.

Using Trigonometric Functions in Excel

Step 1. Open Excel 2010 and save your file as trig-functions.xlsx. Type “Angle (Degrees)” in A1, “Angle (Radians)” in B1, “SIN” in C1, “COS” in D1, “TAN” in E1, “COSEC” in F1, “SEC” in G1 and “COT” in H1. Also type “0” in A2, “30” in A3, “45” in A4, “60” in A5, “90” in A6, “180” in A7, “270” in A8 and “360” in A9. You should not enter the double quotes when you type in the data. You can format these texts and make them bold. Now your screen will look like this:

Trig Functions Table

Step 2. Click on the cell B2 and go to Formulas (main menu) --> Math & Trig (in the Function Library group).

Trig Function Ribbon

Step 3. Scroll down and select the RADIANS function to get a screen like this:

Trig Functions Radians

After clicking inside the space to enter the value (circled in red), click the cell A2.

Trig Functions Radians Arguments

Click OK and the cell B2 have a value 0.

Step 4. Click the cell B2 and copy the formula (CTRL + C) and paste it (CTRL + V) in the cells B3, B4, B5, B6, B7, B8 and B9. If you are an experienced Excel user, you can just drag the formula in the cells instead of copying and pasting. Now your screen will look like this:

Trig Functions Angle

Step 5. Click the cell C2 and go to Formulas --> Math & Trig (in the Function Library group). Select the SIN function and after clicking inside the space to enter the value, click the cell B2. Click OK. Copy the formula in cell C2 and paste it in the cells C3 to C9. Now your screen will look like this:

Trig Functions SIN

Step 6. Click the cell D2 and go to Formulas --> Math & Trig (in the Function Library group). Select the COS function and after clicking inside the space to enter the value, click the cell B2. Click OK. Copy the formula in cell D2 and paste in the cells D3 to D9. Now your screen will look like this:

Trig Functions COS

Step 7. Click the cell E2 and go to Formulas --> Math & Trig (in the Function Library group). Select the TAN function and after clicking inside the space to enter the value, click the cell B2. Click OK. Copy the formula in cell E2 and paste in the cells E3 to E9. Now your screen will look like this:

Trig Functions TAN

Step 8. As already mentioned, there are no built-in functions to calculate COSEC, SEC and COT values. You need to calculate them using the core functions like this:

cosec x = 1/sin x

sec x = 1/cos x

cot x = 1/tan x

Click the cell F2 and click inside the Formula Bar (circled in red) and enter the formula “=1/C2” (without double quotes). Copy the formula in cell F2 and paste in the cells F3 to F9. Now your screen will look like this:

Trig Functions COSEC

Step 9. Click the cell G2, click inside the Formula Bar and enter the formula “=1/D2” (without double quotes). Copy the formula in cell G2 and paste in the cells G3 to G9. Now your screen will look like this:

Trig Functions SEC

Step 10. Click the cell H2, click inside the Formula Bar and enter the formula “=1/E2” (without double quotes). Copy the formula in cell H2 and paste in the cells H3 to H9. Now your screen will look like this:

Trig Functions COT

You can round these resulting values to two or three decimal points to get more feasible results. Change all the formulas in cells C, D, E, F, G and H in such a way that the new formula becomes =ROUND(existing formula, 3). For example, the formula in cell C4 becomes =ROUND(SIN(B4),3) where the existing formula was =SIN(B4). You can also replace all the errors (#DIV/0!) with * and just provide a description somewhere in the same worksheet specifying that * means undefined. Now your screen will look like this:

Trig Functions indicates undefined

Likewise, you can find the value of sinh, cosh and tanh using the formulas SINH, COSH and TANH and calculate cosech, sech and coth from sinh, cosh and tanh.