by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 27, 2017)
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:
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, and 2013.
Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!
Excel allows you to enter two different types of formulas in a cell: A regular formula or an array formula. If you need to ...Discover More
Replacing one character in a text value with another character is easy. All you need to do is use the SUBSTITUTE function, as ...Discover More
It is not unusual to need to select two random items from a list. There are a couple of ways you can approach the task; the ...Discover More
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.