Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007 and 2010. 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: Dealing with Long Formulas.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 31, 2015)
Anyone who has been using Excel for any length of time knows that some formulas can get quite long. Excel handles them—as long as they are constructed correctly—but they can be a bear for humans to understand. Even after you develop your own formulas, you may have trouble understanding them weeks or months later.
One way to make formulas a bit easier to understand is to use Alt+Enter in the middle of the formula to "format" how it appears on the screen. Consider, for instance, the following long formula:
=+IF($A2=0,0,IF($B2<4264,0,IF(AND($B2>=4264,$B2<=4895), (-22.31*$C2/365),IF(AND($B2>=4895,$B2<=32760),($B2*0.093- 476.89)*$C2/365,IF($B2>32760,($B2*0.128-1623.49)*$C2/365)))))
This formula could also be written in the following manner, with Alt+Enter being pressed at the end of each line in the formula:
=+IF($A1=0,0, IF($B1<4264,0, IF(AND($B1>=4264,$B1<=4895),(-22.31*$C1/365), IF(AND($B1>=4895,$B1<=32760),($B1*0.093-476.89)*$C1/365, IF($B1>32760,($B1*0.128-1623.49)*$C1/365)))))
Now, the broken-up formula appears on five lines, even though it all appears in a single cell. The broken-up formula works just as if it were all on one line.
In addition, if you copy the complete broken-up formula from the Formula bar and paste it into a worksheet, each line in the formula is pasted into a different cell, making it easy to test each part. This is much quicker than copying and pasting parts of the original formula.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11251) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Dealing with Long Formulas.
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