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2 - I'm not sure why you are using the @ sign with SUM. The common/correct operator is the equal sign. In fact, when you use @, Excel changes it to = in both Excel 2003 and 2010 on my machine.
3 - If you will always be summing contiguous ranges (e.g. C6:C9) one possible solution would be to put the numeric values in a hidden column and then SUM your initials using OFFSET.
For example, if your initials were in C6:C9 and your assigned values were in D6:D9, this would allow you to highlight the initials by dragging and SUM the values:
The values in both Column D could be populated from a table using VLOOKUP so that you would be able to change the value (e.g. "hourly pay") in the table and not have to access the hidden column.
Unfortunately, this method will not work to SUM non-contiguous cells (C6+C8+C9) so if you will need to do that, come on back and we'll see what we can do.
(I don't have a quick solution to that and I don't have time to work on it right now, especially since I don't know if you will every need to do that.)
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