Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Starting Out Formulas.

Starting Out Formulas

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 8, 2015)

2

When you are entering information in a cell, Excel recognizes the information as a formula if you start it with the equal sign. If you are entering lots of numeric information, you may find it a bother to continually move your hand away from the numeric keypad to enter the requisite equal sign for each cell.

One way to handle this is to begin each cell with a plus sign instead of the equal sign. When you press Enter at the end of the formula you are entering, Excel automatically converts the leading plus sign to an equal sign.

There is a caveat to this "plus sign behavior." If you type either of the following, the plus sign does not go away:

+A1+A2
+SUM(A1:A2)

Excel converts to these:

=+A1+A2
=+SUM(A1:A2)

However, if the first operand is a numeric constant, then a conversion takes place:

+25+A2

Excel converts to this:

=25+A2

It is interesting that if you place a plus sign in front of a date, it defeats Excel's automatic date parsing and causes it to be parsed as a formula:

+11-21-15

Excel converts to this, replacing the plus sign with an equal sign and displaying a result of -25:

=11-21-13

You get a similar parsing result if you use a different delimiter, as in +11/21/15.

The bottom line is that for those who use the numeric keypad to enter formulas that consist of numbers, this can be a real plus (no pun intended) since you don't have to move your hand to enter a leading plus sign, as you would for a leading equal sign.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2351) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Starting Out Formulas.

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

Summing Only the Largest Portion of a Range

Given a range of cells, you may at some time want to calculate the sum of only the largest values in that range. Here is an ...

Discover More

Ignoring Smart Quotes when Comparing Text

When comparing two pieces of text, you may find that Word's smart quotes can mess up the comparison. Here's a quick way to ...

Discover More

Formatting Lots of Tables

Do you need a quick way to format your tables? Believe it or not, there are several tools you can use from Word's arsenal to ...

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 (menu)

Ignoring N/A Values in a Sum

You can use some of Excel's worksheet functions across a range or worksheets, but not all of them. One that has problems with ...

Discover More

Referencing the Last Six Items in a Formula

If you have a list of data in a column, you may want to determine an average of whatever the last few items are in the ...

Discover More

Extracting First and Last Words

When working with text phrases stored in cells, it might be helpful to be able to extract words from the phrase. In this tip ...

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 6 - 0?

2015-08-15 16:21:53

C. Hartmann

I was not aware of this. I like. Reminds me of what I've heard about Lotus123 being able to enter formulas without first entering the equal sign.


2015-08-09 11:29:21

V. Suresh

Great help for those who use the numeric key pad as in a calculator for quickly checking.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon 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.