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A to Z of Excel Functions: The POWER Function

20 November 2023

Welcome back to our regular A to Z of Excel Functions blog.  Today we look at the POWER function.


The POWER function

The Excel POWER function returns a number raised to a given power (exponent).  The POWER function is a supposed alternative to the exponent operator (^), but we disagree (see below).

Its syntax is:

POWER(number, power)

POWER has the following arguments:

  • number: this is required and represents the base number; it cam be any real number
  • power: this too is required.  This is the exponent to which the base number is to be raised.

It should be further noted that:

  • if number is negative and power is a non-integer, results can be inconsistent and may lead to errors even when the value may be calculated, e.g.

           =POWER(-8, 1/3) = -2 (correct)

           =POWER(-8, 2/3) = #NUM! (incorrect, it should be +4)

           =POWER(-8, 0.33333333333333) = #NUM!

           =POWER(-8, 0.333333333333333) = -2

  • POWER and ^ are not always interchangeable, e.g.

           =POWER(4, POWER(3, 2)) =262,144

           =POWER(4, 3 ^ 2) = 262,144

           =4 ^ 3 ^ 2 = 4,096.  This is because a ^ b ^ c is treated as a ^ (bc) rather than a ^ (b ^ c).

Please see my examples below:


We’ll continue our A to Z of Excel Functions soon.  Keep checking back – there’s a new blog post every other business day.