Formulas in Markdown Tables
- The Fomula Structure - An Overview
- Formula Components
- Chaining and Multiple Formulas
- Formatting Options
One of the most exciting features this library adds (in my opinion) are formulas. The format for these fomulas is very similar to that used in org-mode, though not quite as powerful.
A brief overview of the features:
- Copy values from one cell, row, column, or range to another
- Sum values from a column or range
- Average (mean) values from a column or range
- Value comparisons
- Algebraic operations
The Fomula Structure - An Overview
Let's write an example formula, and become familiar with the structure before learning the details of any specific feature.
| Item | Grams | | ----------------- | ----- | | Whole Wheat Flour | 110 | | Bread Flour | 748 | | Warm Water | 691 | | Salt | 18 | | Starter | 40 | | **Total Grams** | | <!-- TBLFM: @>$2=sum(@I..@-1) -->
Formulas are added to tables as an HTML comment directly following the table. The format is
<!-- to start the comment, and
--> to finish. Note that there is a space between the dashes and the internals of the formula.
Next, we signify that this comment contains a formula with
TBLFM: . Again note the trailing space. The components thus far will exist unchanged for every formula you write.
Source and Destination
Now we get into the dynamic part of the formula. You can break any formula down into two halves: where to retrieve data, and where to store the result.
<!-- TBLFM: DESTINATION=SOURCE -->
So in this formula, we are retrieving data from
sum(@I..@-1) and storing it in
Rows and Columns
Just like in org-mode, formulas use symbols to denote rows and columns. In the above formula, the destination for our calculated value is
@>$2. We can break this down into
$2, meaning "last row" and "column 2". We'll dive into what "last row" means in a minute.
Let's look at the source:
sum(@I..@-1). Again, if we ignore some of the concepts we haven't learned yet, we can identify a few rows here:
@-1 are both rows
In addition to using number to refer to specific rows and columns (referred to as absolute rows, or absolute columns), symbols can be used to dynamically refer to parts of the table.
$<mean the first row and first column, respectively.
$>mean the last row and last column, respectively.
@Ireferrs to the line separating the table header from the table body.
Rows and columns can also be referenced in relation to the current cell being filled. For example,
@-1 means "the same column, one row above", and
$+2 would mean "the same row, two columns right".
When writing a cell reference, if the row or column portion is omitted, it means "in the current row" or "in the current column". In our example,
@-1 have both omitted the column, so these references are for the same column as the destination cell.
@2 by itself it means literally "row 2", as in, the entire row. Similarly,
@2$4 means the single cell in row 2, column 4. However what if you want to reference only a few cells in one column, or perhaps, a few cells in several consecutive columns?
Ranges allow for doing just that. A range is denoted by two periods in a row between two row and/or columns.
Our example from the top says "From the row after the header in the current column, to the row above this in the last column."
The last piece to our example is the function call.
<!-- TBLFM: @>$2=sum(@I..@-1) -->
In this example we are using the
sum function, and passing it the range described above as the input data. The details of how
sum operates will be discussed later in this document, but for now we can say it sums the provided input data, providing a single cell as the output.
With that we understand all the components of the example formula. It adds the numbers from the second column, excluding the header and the final row, and places the result in the final row.
This section will go into further detail about the different components which can be used in a formula. Some details will be repeats from the overview section above.
Cell and Row References
Rows are always denoted by
@ and columns by
$. Rows and columns can be specified as absolute values, or relative.
@1means the first row, and
@5means the 5th row from the top.
$1means the first column, and
$5means the 5th column from the left.
$<mean the first row and first column, respectively.
$>mean the last row and last column, respectively.
@Irefers to the first row of content below the header.
@-1means the the row above the cell being filled.
$+2means the column two right of the cell being filled.
A row or column can be specified by themselves, or together in a combination. For example,
@5 means the 5th row in the current column. Similarly,
$5 means the 5th column in the current row. When used together, they indicate a single cell.
When used together, the row should always preceed the column.
With just rows and columns, the fomula is limited to selecting single cells, or full rows and columns. Using a range, a formula can select partial rows/columns, as well as multiple rows/columns.
Ranges are created with a row and/or column, two dots, and another row and/or column. For example
@1..@3. Note however, that the components on both sides must match. A range can not be from a row to a column, or a cell to a row.
@2..$4- Invalid, can not range from a row to a column.
@2$3..@5- Valid, if column exists on first term and not second, it is carried to the second.
@2$3..@5$5- Valid, from one cell to another cell.
$4..$6- Valid, from one column to another column.
Ranges can be used to select portions of a row or column.
@2$>..@5$>- The last column, from row 2 to row 5. Arity
@3$<..@3$5- The third row, from the first column to the 5th. Arity
Ranges can also be used to select more than a row or column.
@<..@>- The entire row from the first row, to the last (the whole table).
@3$1..@4$3- From row 3 to row 4, from column 1 to 3. Arity
Formulas can be used to add, subtract, multiply, and divide values in a table. All algebraic operations must be contained in parenthesis.
When adding, at least one of the specified values must be a single cell. A formula may not add one range to another range.
(@2$3+@3$4)- Valid, adding two cells.
(@2+@3$4)- Valid, add the value in row two of the current cell, to the cell @3$4.
(@2$3+$4)- Valid, add the value in @2$3 to the value in the current row, column $4.
(@2+@3)- Valid, add the value in the current column of row 2 to the current column of row 3.
@2$3+$4- Invalid, missing parenthesis.
In this table, the right column started out looking just like the left, with only the first two values filled. The formula fills the last column from row 4 to the last row. For each row, it adds the value of the previous two rows.
You may recognize this as the Fibonacci Sequence
| Start | Fibonacci | |-------+-----------| | 1 | 1 | | 1 | 1 | | | 2 | | | 3 | | | 5 | | | 8 | | | 13 | | | 21 | <!-- TBLFM: @4$>..@>$>=(@-1+@-2) -->
Subtraction requires that the second operand be a single cell. The first operand may be a range or cell.
(@2$3-@3$4)- Valid, subtract two cells.
(@2-@3$4)- Valid, subtract a single cell from each value in the row.
(@3$4-@2)- Valid, the value in row two of the current column from @3$4.
@2-@3$4- Invalid, missing parenthesis.
In this example, we are subtracting the value in row three (4, 5, 6) from the value in @2$3 (3). Notice how each result (-1, -2, -3) subtracted the value in the corresponding cell of row three.
| One | Two | Three | |-----+-----+-------| | 1 | 2 | 3 | | 4 | 5 | 6 | | -1 | -2 | -3 | #+TBLFM: @>=(@2$3-@3)
Multiplication requires at least one value be a single cell. A formula may not multiply one range with another range.
(@2$3*@3$4)- Valid, multiplying two cells.
(@2*@3$4)- Valid, multiply a single cell with the current column in row 2.
(@2$3*$4)- Valid, multiply a single cell with the current row in column 4.
(@2*@3)- Valid, multiply the current column in row 2 with the current column in row 3.
(@2..@3*@2$4..@4$4)- Invalid, both operands are ranges.
@2$3*$4- Invalid, missing parenthesis.
Division requires that the second operand be a single cell. The first operand may be a range or a cell.
(@2$3/@3$4)- Valid, divide two cells.
(@2/@3$4)- Valid, divide each value in the row by s single cell.
(@3$4/@2)- Valid, divide a single cell by the current column in row 2.
(@3$4/@2..@3)- Invalid, may not divide a single cell by a range.
@2/@3$4- Invalid, missing parenthesis.
Conditionals allow choosing a value based on the comparison of two inputs.
if(@3$4<@4$5, @2, @3)
In this example, we are comparing the values located in cell
@3$4 against cell
@4$5. If the first is less than (
<) the second, then the result will be the first parameter (
@2), otherwise the result will be the second parameter (
Comparisons can only be made between cells, not ranges.
- < - Less than
- > - Greater than
- <= - Less than or equal to
- >= - Greater than or equal to
- == - Equal
- != - Not equal
This conditional operation sets the values in the last column (except the header). For each row, it checks if the first column is greater than three. If it is, that value is put in the last column, otherwise the value of three is put in the last column.
In other words, this function sets the last column to the greater of the first column and three.
| One | Two | Three | |-----+-----+-------| | 1 | 2 | 3 | | 4 | 5 | 4 | | -1 | -2 | 3 | #+TBLFM: $>=if($1>3, $1, 3)
Functions look very similar to conditional operations. A keyword followed by parenthesis with values inside. For example,
mean(@3$<..@3$4). A function call passes in the data from the provided range, cell, row, or column, then performs a caculation and provides back the result.
There are two functions that can be used:
sum is very similar to the addition algebraic operation above, but it will add all the cells in the provided range, row, or column together and output a single cell result.
| One | Two | Three | |-----------+-----+-------| | 1 | 2 | | | 4 | 5 | | | **Total** | | 12 | <!-- TBLFM: @>$>=sum(@2$<..@3$2) -->
mean calculates the average of the provided range, row, or column. Like
sum it will output a single cell result.
The different building blocks of a function can be nested, as long as their arity matches. For example, the output from
sum can be used as an input for a conditional operation. Here are a few examples of valid nesting:
<!-- TBLFM: @>=sum(@3..@4)+@3$1 -->- Add
@3$1to each column output by
<!-- TBLFM: @3$3=if(@2$4+@2$5==@2$6, @3$3, @4$3) -->- Add two cells in the comparison
Chaining and Multiple Formulas
A table may have multiple formulas defined. This can be done in two ways. In a single formula line, multiple formulas may be "chained" together, separated by
::. For example:
<!-- TBLFM: @2=@4::$1=$2 -->
When chained, formulas will be evaluated from left to right. The resulting table after applying the first formula, will be used as the input for the second formula. This means that the second formula may operated on calculated values from the first formula.
The second method is with multiple formula lines.
<!-- TBLFM: @2=@4 --> <!-- TBLFM: $1=$2 -->
This method is equivalent to chaining. Formula lines will be evaluated from the top to the bottom. Just like when chaining, the output table after one formula, is passed as the input to the next.
These methods can be mixed.
<!-- TBLFM: @2=@4::$1=$2 --> <!-- TBLFM: @5$3=sum(@2) -->
You can optionally request the result be output with a certain number of decimal points by using a formatting directive. For example:
| A | B | C | D | | --- | --- | --- | --- | | 1 | 2 | 5 | 6 | | 3 | 4 | 7 | 8 | | | | | | <!-- TBLFM: @>=(@I / @3$4);%.2f -->
In this example, the formatting directive is the
;%.2f at the end. Without that, the results would be values such as
0.14285714285714285, but because we have requested
2 decimal points, the results will instead be
This documentation is a work in progress. Please help improve this documentation by sending your questions or suggestions to