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: Getting Help when Entering Functions.

Getting Help when Entering Functions

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 3, 2020)

One of the tools that Excel provides for adding functions to a formula is the Insert Function tool on the Formulas tab of the ribbon. It starts a wizard-like interface that leads you through constructing the function properly. If you are like most frequent users of Excel, this level of help is a little much; all you need is a memory-jog as to what parameters should be used with the function.

One obscure shortcut provided in Excel actually provides just the amount of help you may want. For example, let's say you know you want to use the SUBSTITUTE function, but you cannot remember all the parameters that are used with it. Type an equal sign, followed by SUBSTITUTE and a left parenthesis, like this:

=SUBSTITUTE(

Now, press Shift+Ctrl+A. Excel magically adds all the parameters for the formula, like this:

=SUBSTITUTE(text,old_text,new_text,instance_num)

What's more, the first parameter (text) is highlighted, and you can simply start typing what you want used for that parameter. Replace or delete the other parameters, as desired, and you have your correctly constructed function ready to go.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11472) 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: Getting Help when Entering Functions.

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

Cell Movement After Enter

What happens when you press Enter in a cell depends on how you have Excel configured. Here's the way you can control the ...

Discover More

Creating Dependent Drop-Lists

Drop-down lists are handy in an Excel worksheet, and you they can be even more handy if a selection in one drop-down ...

Discover More

Adjusting Text Pitch

Want to adjust the pitch of your text? The answer depends on what, exactly, is meant by "pitch." This tip looks at the ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Editing Individual Cells

Need to edit the data within a cell? There are any number of ways you can perform the edit; this tip documents them all.

Discover More

Displaying Row and Column Labels

When you create a worksheet, it is common to place headings at the top of each column and the left of each row so you can ...

Discover More

Enhanced Filling

Using the AutoFill feature of Excel is very handy. If you want to expand the utility offered by the feature, all you need ...

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 8 + 4?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


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.