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: Getting Help when Entering Functions.

Getting Help when Entering Functions

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 3, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


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 Microsoft 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

Quickly Displaying the Font Dialog Box

Want to quickly format some text in your document? Select, right-click, and make a selection, and you can get to the ...

Discover More

Mixing Column Formats On a Page

Want to switch the number of columns used for your text, in the middle of a page? You can do this very easily by ...

Discover More

Specifying the Behavior of the Enter Key

When you press Enter while adding information to a worksheet, Excel normally drops to the next cell down in the column. ...

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)

Preparing Data for Import into Access

When importing Excel information into Access, you need to be concerned with the condition of the data. Here's how to make ...

Discover More

Changing Multiple Cells at Once

Excel includes several different methods of editing information in your cells. If you want to edit multiple cells all at ...

Discover More

Defaulting Input to Negative Values

When entering many negative values in a worksheet, you could save time if you didn't need to enter the minus sign for ...

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 one more than 7?

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.