Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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 10, 2015)

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, and 2013. 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. ...

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