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: Entering Formulas in Excel.

# Entering Formulas in Excel

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 23, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021

Excel allows you to use a special symbol—the equal sign—to indicate that you expect what you type next to be translated into a formula. Consider the following examples:

```27 + 14
B2 + B3
= 27 + 14
= B2 + B3
```

At first glance, you might not see much difference between the first two examples and the last two. There is a big difference to Excel, however. The last two include equal signs, that special symbol for formulas. This means that Excel tries to perform the operation indicated in the formula—in this case, an addition operation. In the first two examples (without the equal signs), Excel translates the information as text.

There is one other way that you can enter formulas into Excel: through the use of an implied equal sign. You do this by prefacing the formula with a plus sign or a minus sign, as shown here:

```-27 + 14
+B2 + B3
```

This method of entering formulas is archaic, at best, and supported in Excel only for compatibility with older spreadsheet programs. Once the formula is entered, Excel maintains the plus or minus sign, but automatically adds an equal sign to the start of the formula.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12330) 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: Entering Formulas in Excel.

##### 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

Jumping to a Specific Worksheet

Want to make fast work of moving from one worksheet to another? Here's how to do the task when you have a lot of ...

Discover More

Saving in a Macro Using a Desired File Name

Need to save a new document, from within a macro, to a specific file name? If you use the Record Macro capabilities of ...

Discover More

Working with Record Numbers

Want to keep track of various rows in a data table through the use of record numbers? Here are some options and ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

##### More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Displaying a Value and a Percentage in a Single Cell

Sometimes it can be helpful to show both a numeric value and a percentage in the same cell. This can be done through ...

Discover More

Summing Every Fourth Cell in a Row

Need to sum a series of cells that fits some regular pattern? Here are several ways that you can get the summation that ...

Discover More

Adding Rows without Changing a Cell Reference

Insert a row at the top of a range of cells, and the effects within your formulas may not match your expectations. This ...

Discover More
##### Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

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. Youâ€™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 nine more than 3?

2022-04-23 10:52:18

Ken

The "=" key is in an awkward place while the "-" can be found with its friends on the number pad. If you want "-27 + 14" to equal 41 and not -13 enter two minus signs, a negative negative equals a positive.

##### 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.