Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Activating the Formula Bar with the Keyboard.

Activating the Formula Bar with the Keyboard

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 27, 2017)

5

The Formula bar, just above the work area in Excel, shows the formula or value in the currently selected cell. You can click on the formula bar to edit information within a cell, if desired. What if you want to activate the Formula bar by using the keyboard, however?

The quickest way to do this is simply to press F2. This tells Excel that you want to edit the contents of a cell. When you press F2, it is highly possible that Excel will simply expand the information in the cell and allow you to edit the information directly in the cell itself. If you don't like this behavior, but instead want F2 to activate the Formula bar, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 and later versions, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click the Advanced option at the left of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The advanced options in the Excel Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Allow Editing Directly In Cell check box is cleared.
  5. Click on OK.

Now, whenever you press F2, the Formula bar is selected and you can edit the formula there using the normal editing keys. For instance, when you press F2, the insertion point will be at the end of whatever is shown in the Formula bar and you can use the arrow keys to move around. If you press Home, you'll go to the left side of whatever is in the Formula bar.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6174) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Activating the Formula Bar with the Keyboard.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Understanding Graphic Linking

Word provides a couple of different ways that graphics can be linked to your document. How you control the method used ...

Discover More

Finding the Previous Occurrence

Using Word's Object Browser, it is very easy to move among different instances of what you want to search in your ...

Discover More

Finding the Analysis ToolPak Add-In

The Analysis ToolPak is used to add some very handy capabilities to Excel. If you don't have it installed, and you can't ...

Discover More

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!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Deriving a Secant and Cosecant

Two rather common trigonometric functions are secants and cosecants. Excel doesn't provide functions to calculate these, ...

Discover More

Listing Combinations

You can easily use the COMBIN worksheet function to determine the number of combinations that can be made from a given ...

Discover More

Summing Digits in a Value

Want to add up all the digits in a given value? It's a bit trickier than it may at first seem.

Discover More
Subscribe

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

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 0 + 7?

2019-01-09 02:47:52

SteveJez

Roger,
What's the make & model of your keyboard ?


2019-01-08 18:21:02

Roger Stone

SteveJez thanks for the comment, but in fact I've changed in the opposite direction - the laptop died and my new machine is a HP Pavilion 590 with USB keyboard. I have taken a look in the Control Panel - Keyboard Properties though, and I can't see any settings which make a difference. I also checked the Excel Options, but drew a blank.


2019-01-07 03:05:20

SteveJez

Roger,
It sounds like you're on a laptop. Most laptops use the Fn keys for dual functions, F2, in your case, is for reducing the volume from the PC speakers & when you press the Fn Key it will work as F2.
To over come this, you can go to Keyboard Properties via the Control Panel & make the F1-F12 function keys the default.

Steve


2019-01-06 08:23:18

Roger Stone

I always used to use F2 to activate the formula bar, but having trabsferred to a new computer (on Windows 10, using Office 365) I find that pressing F2 opens a pop-up to adjust the sound volume downwards, and I have to use Alt-F2 to activate the formula bar.

Is there any way I can reverse that behaviour, so F2 is back to normal usefulness?


2017-05-27 09:39:45

marshall

I have excel spread sheets in a power point presentation. When I update the data the excel graph is correct. My problem is I have a small word text along with the graph and it doesn't update the data id like listed. can that be done? i've tried all the methods to include the graph format.

thanks.


This Site

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.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

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

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.