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: Evaluating Formulas.

Evaluating Formulas

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 2, 2019)

4

Often it is frustrating to figure out exactly how Excel arrives at a particular result—particularly if the formula returning the result is quite complex. Fortunately, Excel provides a tool you can use to help figure out what is going on when Excel evaluates a formula.

To use this tool, first select the cell that contains the formula you want evaluated. Then, display the Formulas tab of the ribbon. In the Formula Auditing group click the Evaluate Formula tool. Excel displays the Evaluate Formula dialog box. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Evaluate Formula dialog box.

At this point, Excel shows the full formula from the cell, and part of it is underlined. This underlined area represents the part of the formula that Excel will next evaluate. This allows you to see what intermediate steps Excel follows in arriving at a result. Every time you click the Evaluate button, Excel replaces the underlined portion of the formula with a result.

Nothing you do with the formula evaluator actually affects the formula in your worksheet; it remains unchanged. Instead, Excel simply shows you what happens as it works through each part of the formula to arrive at a result. When you are done using the formula evaluator, click the Close button.

It should be noted that the formula evaluator is for evaluating just what it says: formulas. It is not for evaluating other items, such as data points on charts or aggregated data in PivotTables.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6236) 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: Evaluating Formulas.

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

Copying Worksheets in a Macro

Copying worksheets (one or many) is easy to do manually. What is not well known is that it is even easy to make the ...

Discover More

Configuring Spell Check for Internet Addresses

When writing technical documents, URLs are a common thing to include in your text. Normally Word will mark these as ...

Discover More

Searching for Special Characters

When using the Find and Replace feature of Word, you can search for more than plain text. You can also search for ...

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 Antilogs

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

Discover More

Searching for a Value Using a Function

Searching for a value using Excel's Find tool is easy; searching for that same value using a formula or a macro is more ...

Discover More

Adjusting Test Scores Proportionately

Teachers often grade on what is affectionately referred to as "the curve." The problem is, it can be a bit difficult to ...

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 nine more than 4?

2019-11-06 16:15:09

Yvan Loranger

Wow, Notepad still exists, I prefer it to WordPad [Notepad automatically gives me a monospace font].


2019-11-05 18:14:39

Yvan Loranger

You won't need to substitute underscores for spaces in your WordPad, just something ExcelTips forced me to do.
I'm sure Allen Wyatt is not responsible.


2019-11-05 17:04:26

Yvan Loranger

Drats, my spacing got fouled up.
I'll try by substituting an underscore for every space [sorry]

Evaluate Formula tool is good. Here is another method.
Assuming the following formula
=MID(A2,IF(B2<9,B2,FIND("Z",A2)),LEN(A2)-C2)
If I copy/paste it into a text editor like Wordpad then format thusly [ensure you use a monospace font like Courier], it helps me see the overall/partial overall picture.
=MID(A2,
_____IF(B2 < 9,
_______B2,
_______FIND("Z",
____________A2
___________)
_______),
_____LEN(A2) - C2 <<< You could bring the ) & following into another line starting below the (
____)
Formatting thusly helps me see the overall/partial overall picture for a range of cells.


2019-11-05 16:55:07

Yvan Loranger

Evaluate Formula tool is good. Here is another method.
Assuming the following formula
=MID(A2,IF(B2<9,B2,FIND("Z",A2)),LEN(A2)-C2)
If I copy/paste it into a text editor like Wordpad then format thusly [ensure you use a monospace font like Courier], it helps me see the overall/partial overall picture.
=MID(A2,
IF(B2 < 9,
B2,
FIND("Z",
A2
)
),
LEN(A2) - C2 <<< You could bring the ) & following into another line starting below the (
)
Formatting thusly helps me see the overall/partial overall picture for a range of cells.


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.