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: Activating the Formula Bar with the Keyboard.

Activating the Formula Bar with the Keyboard

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 31, 2016)

2

The Formula bar, just above the work area in Excel, shows the formula or value in the currently selected cell. You can click on the formula bar to edit information within a cell, if desired. What if you want to activate the Formula bar by using the keyboard, however?

The quickest way to do this is simply to press F2. This tells Excel that you want to edit the contents of a cell. When you press F2, it is highly possible that Excel will simply expand the information in the cell and allow you to edit the information directly in the cell itself. If you don't like this behavior, but instead want F2 to activate the Formula bar, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Excel displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Edit tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Edit tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Clear the Edit Directly In Cell check box.
  5. Click on OK.

Now, whenever you press F2, the Formula bar is selected and you can edit the formula there.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2651) 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: Activating the Formula Bar with the Keyboard.

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

Using Subentries in an AutoMark File

If you have a large document and need to create a complicated index, an AutoMark file can make your life much easier. This ...

Discover More

Setting the AutoRecover Directory

Excel, by default, periodically writes information to AutoRecover files that can help protect your data in case Excel is ...

Discover More

Viewing Footnotes

Adding footnotes to a document is essential for some types of writing. How you view those footnotes depends on the display ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Patterns of Numbers with a Formula

Want to create a sequential pattern using formulas? It's easy to do if you take a look at how your data repeats. This tip ...

Discover More

Summing Absolute Values

You can easily sum a series of values in Excel, but it is not so easy to sum the absolute values of each value in a range. ...

Discover More

Solving Simultaneous Equations

One branch of mathematics allows you to work with what are called "simultaneous equations." Working with this type of ...

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. 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 2 + 1?

2015-04-22 09:26:14

Peter Jaspers

Here's an odd one I discovered by accident. I do not like to change the settings as suggested above, because usually I like editing in the cell. However, here is an ad-hoc solution: if you are editing a formula (but only then), and, while in editing mode in the cell, press Ctrl-A, then the focus magically moves to the formula bar.


2012-11-15 01:42:25

KURIAN VARKEY

IT IS VERY USEFUL. THANK YOU


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.