**Please Note: **
This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), *this tip may not work for you*. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Formulas Don't Calculate as Formulas.

When you enter information into a cell, Excel needs to determine how to treat that information. Should it be considered a date? A number? As a formula? Perhaps it is text? Excel interprets your cell entry according to a fairly well-defined set of rules. The "fall-back" determination for a cell is to treat an entry as text.

You may notice something odd when entering information in a cell, however—Excel may always treat what you enter as text. For instance, you may enter a formula such as =B3 into a cell, with the expectation that the formula will be understood by Excel and the contents of cell B3 will be shown as a result of the formula. Excel, however, may simply display "=B3" in the cell, instead of the expected result.

If this happens to you, then Excel is not interpreting your cell entry as a formula, but as text. It is bypassing the normal parsing that goes on and instead jumping directly to the "fall-back" determination of the cell containing text.

This problem happens most often when the cell into which you are entering information was previously formatted as text. In other words, someone used the Number Format drop-down list (in the Number group on the Home tab of the ribbon) or the Format Cells dialog box to explicitly format the cell as Text.

An easy way to correct this situation is to perform the following steps:

- Select the cell that contains the formula that is being interpreted as text.
- Display the Home tab of the ribbon.
- Click the Clear tool, in the Editing group. Excel displays a few different actions you can take.
- Choose Clear Formats. This removes any formatting applied to the cell.
- Press
**F2**. This puts the cell into edit mode. - Immediately press
**Enter**. This causes Excel to re-evaluate what is in the cell.

Your formula should now be treated as a formula instead of as text.

*ExcelTips* is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training.
This tip (3308) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: **Formulas Don't Calculate as Formulas**.

**Program Successfully in Excel!** John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out *Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA* today!

If you want to add up the contents of a range of cells based on what is contained in a different range of cells, you need ...

Discover MoreCreating math formulas is a particular strong point of Excel. Not all the functions that you may need are built directly ...

Discover MoreIt is easy to use Excel functions to sum values based on criteria you establish, unless those criteria involve the ...

Discover More**FREE SERVICE:** Get tips like this every week in *ExcelTips,* a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

2018-07-25 10:45:32

Devon R

2018-07-13 06:45:17

Ruthie A. Ward

@Alex B - Thanks. Option 2 works as not all the formulas are the same in every row of the column.

2018-07-13 03:03:08

Alex B

" for multiple cells in the same row:-" **** should be column ****

"Typically all formulas in the row" **** should be column ****

2018-07-13 02:57:16

Alex B

Once you have changed the column to General you need to make Excel think that you are re-entering the formula into the cell. So

1) To do the first cell just go into edit mode in the cell and hit enter.

2) You are not going to do that for the more than one cell. So for multiple cells in the same row:-

2.1) Option 1

Typically all formulas in the row are all the same formula so you simply copy the formula you fixed in 1) above down to all the rows.

2.2) Option 2

If you have different formulas on different rows or for some other reason you don't want to do the above, you can use Data > Text to columns per my post below.

(You are just trying to trick Excel into thinking you have re-entered the formula now that the column is no longer formatted as text)

2018-07-12 07:03:07

Ruthie A. Ward

2018-07-09 09:53:07

Gary Lundblad

Gary Lundblad

2018-07-08 20:55:47

Alex B

Formatting the column as General as mentioned in the tip is always the first step, and the Convert Text to Columns for the offending data will generally fix it. Just make sure you pick a delimiter option that is not in the data ie Tab and select the column data format General (if dates select “Date”) and have the destination the same as the source range.

2018-07-07 12:54:34

MW

If it does, reset the workbook calculation option on the ribbon: Formulas | Calculation Options | Automatic

2018-07-07 12:28:35

Don Hornbrook

Got a version of Excel that uses the
ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)?
**This site is for you!** If you
use an earlier version of Excel, visit
our *ExcelTips* site focusing on the menu interface.

**FREE SERVICE:** Get tips like this every week in *ExcelTips,* a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

Copyright © 2021 Sharon Parq Associates, Inc.

## Comments