Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 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: Starting Out Formulas.

Starting Out Formulas

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 10, 2019)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


5

When you are entering information in a cell, Excel recognizes the information as a formula if you start it with the equal sign. If you are entering lots of numeric information, you may find it a bother to continually move your hand away from the numeric keypad to enter the requisite equal sign for each cell.

One way to handle this is to begin each cell with a plus sign instead of the equal sign. When you press Enter at the end of the formula you are entering, Excel automatically converts the leading plus sign to an equal sign.

For those who use the numeric keypad to enter their formulas, this can be a real plus (no pun intended) since you don't have to move your hand to enter a leading plus sign, as you would for a leading equal sign.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9929) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Starting Out 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

Protecting Custom Shortcut Keys

If you spend time creating a rich set of custom shortcut keys, it can be rather frustrating if they suddenly disappear. ...

Discover More

Using Chart Titles

Titles can be a great addition to any chart. They help provide explanatory information about the information in the ...

Discover More

Swapping Two Numbers

When programming macros, variables are used extensively. At some point you might want to exchange the values held in two ...

Discover More

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!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Grabbing the Second-to-Last Value in a Column

Need to get at the next-to-last value in a column, regardless of how many cells are used within that column? This tip ...

Discover More

Finding the Address of the Lowest Value in a Range

Uncovering the lowest value in a range is relatively easy; you can just use the MIN worksheet function. Discovering the ...

Discover More

Finding the Smallest Even Value

When processing data in a worksheet, you may have a need to know what the smallest (lowest) even value in a range is. You ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 two more than 7?

2019-08-12 12:59:54

Preston

Thanks for the background! It makes sense that 10-key entry is a good reason to allow formulas to begin with "+" signs. I did not know that! :)


2019-08-11 20:43:04

John Mann

The @ sign was used to indicate a function in Lotus 1-2-3, all versions from DOS to the most recent Windows version (9.8), e.g. @SUM(A1:A5). The slash key was used to access the menus on the DOS versions of 1-2-3,and was retained in the Windows versions as an option, which could be disabled, to access the "Classic Menus" (it's there in my copy which is the last version released).


2019-08-11 10:52:50

Peter Atherton

The @ key is still replaced by =..
The slash key is upedictable and ometimes call up the old menu system.


2019-08-10 23:12:12

Alex B

I have stopped using starting with a plus sign, although I also seem to recollect it replacing the plus sign with an equal sign, it now just adds the equal sign to the front while retaining the plus, which just adds clutter.
ie +A1 becomes =+A1


2019-08-10 16:23:50

John Mann

This also works if you start with a minus sign. Starting with a multiplication sign (*) resulted in the entry being treated as a string. When starting with a division key (/) the results were unpredictable but interesting - sometimes jumping to A1 (i was using column A for testing), and on one occassion bringing up the "Save As" dialogue box!.


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.