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)


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. ...


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What is five more than 3?

2017-05-27 09:39:45


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.


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