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

Turning Track Changes Off for Selected Areas

Track Changes is a great tool to use so that you can, well, "track" what changes are made during the development of a ...

Discover More

Breaking Links in Lots of Documents

Breaking document links can be a tedious chore, especially if there are lots of links and lots of documents. This tip ...

Discover More

Checking for Words and Phrases

You may want to determine if a document contains a certain set of words or phrases. There are a couple of ways you can ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Understanding Scope for Named Ranges

When you add a named range to a worksheet, you can specify if you want that named range to apply to the workbook or only ...

Discover More

Deriving High and Low Non-Zero Values

When analyzing your numeric data, you may need to figure out the largest and smallest numbers in a set of values. If you ...

Discover More

Cell Address of a Maximum Value

Finding the maximum value in a range of cells is easy; finding the address of the cell containing that value is a ...

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 four more than 7?

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.