Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Enlarging the Formula Bar.

Enlarging the Formula Bar

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 19, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


When you select a cell in a worksheet, the contents of that cell are shown in the Formula bar. If the contents are longer than what can be displayed in a single line on the Formula bar, the depth of the Formula bar increases so that the entire formula can be displayed. When you move to another cell, the Formula bar again decreases in depth to a single line.

The problem with an automatically adjusting Formula bar is that it can obscure other elements on the screen. If the Formula bar takes up two or three lines of depth, it overlays the column headers and other cells in the worksheet. This can be distracting, at times.

There are two ways around this. The first is to make the size of the Formula bar static and the other is to turn off the Formula bar completely.

Excel allows you to modify the number of lines used by the Formula bar. That way it will always take a specific amount of space and you won't be bothered by it jumping around as much. To expand the Formula bar (so you can see everything it contains), click the tool at the very right edge of the Formula bar. When you hover the mouse pointer over the tool, the ToolTip says "Expand Formula Bar." (In Excel 2013 and later versions, it'll be the small arrow icon that expands the formula bar.)

Another option is to simply turn off the Formula bar completely. (If you have no Formula bar displayed, then it cannot expand and obscure information in the worksheet.) If you want to turn off the Formula bar completely, display the View tab of the ribbon and, in the Show group, clear the check box next to the Formula Bar option.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11705) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Enlarging the Formula Bar.

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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What is 9 + 7?

2022-05-02 15:38:25


I have the same question as J. Wooley: "Is there an option to make it automatically adjust?"
My formula bar used to automatically adjust. That changed with one of the updates. I want it to automatically adjust again!
My current version is Office Professional 2019.

2022-03-19 17:59:27

John Mann

I've been using Excel 2010 for ages, with quite a lot of serious (and not so serious) workbooks created for personal use and for the small non-profit of which I'm treasurer.

I have always (as long as I can remember) had a fairly deep formula bar, which looks like it could accomodate 3 lines. After reading this tip I found I could shrink it to 1 line - very nice for the extra useful space.

I also found the Ctrl+Shift+U will toggle the depth of the formula bar, as in the 365 versions, and dragging the bottom edge also works, to create a ridiculously deep formula bar.

One line is enough for me. With modern wide monitors, and running Excel at almost full screen, I would have to try very hard indeed to create a formula which needs more than one line.

2022-02-22 15:26:09


You make it sound like the tip is useless, but remember it was meant for several versions of Excel, and in older ones it works better.
It also implies how to turn the formula bar back on, and with the keyboard shortcut in J. Woolley's comment it becomes even better.

2022-02-21 08:20:23

Rebekah Rainey

So really, the title of this article is "How to Disable the Formula Bar" (or in Wyatt speak, "Turning Off the Formula Bar.") Right?

2022-02-19 15:59:24


@J. Woolley:
It is the same in mine (365 Family). However, you can drag its bottom down to make it more than three lines :-)

2022-02-19 14:40:40

J. Woolley

I use Excel 365. My formula bar doesn't automatically adjust as described in the Tip's first paragraph; however, Ctrl+Shift+U will expand it to 3 lines or contract it to 1 line. Is there an option to make it automatically adjust?

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