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: Controlling Display of the Formula Bar.

Controlling Display of the Formula Bar

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 22, 2016)


The Formula Bar is the area at the top of the Excel window, just below the ribbon area. The Formula Bar has two parts: at the left is the Name Box, and to the right is the contents of the currently selected cell.

If you need more room to view a worksheet or you don't need the information provided by the Formula Bar, you can turn it off. To control display of the Formula Bar, follow these steps:

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

  4. Click on the Formula Bar check box. If it is selected, then the Formula Bar is displayed; not selected means it isn't displayed.
  5. Click on OK.

You can also use the Formula Bar option from the View menu. This option functions like a toggle—click on it once, and the Formula Bar disappears; click again, and it reappears.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2729) 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: Controlling Display of 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 4 + 4?

2017-02-07 23:44:54


Thank you !!

2017-01-26 16:12:23

Ellen Blackmon

why is the data box on the Formulas tab so big? Can I make it smaller to see more of the file?

2017-01-16 07:52:41


Sheet 1 has questions
Sheet 2 has answers
Contents of Sheet 2 to be hidden from cells as well as from the formula bar. I do not mean hiding the formula bar.
The contents of cell of Sheet 2 can be displayed by formula. No VBA please.
Is it possible?

2016-09-21 13:22:20

Jahn Ghalt

Is there a way to restore Excel 2003 function to the formula bar - in Excel 2013??

Specifically, in v2003 the formula bar automatically resizes to display the entire formula in the related cell (including alt-enter line breaks).

More generally is there an effective place to plead for sanity for future versions and/or "patches" of recent excel versions??

2016-06-23 15:09:48


i am interested in microsoft excdel. i wish to learn it to high length

2015-08-31 09:20:46


Go to VIEW then scroll to FORMULA BAR.

2015-04-18 12:28:41

Duane Kriesel

Using both 2003 and 2007 The Formula bar disappeared in the 2007 version. You reference the TOOLS tab but there is no tool tab in my 2007 version.


2014-11-21 09:46:23

Pat O\'Leary

I would like the fx bar to show the formula and not the result but I cannot find a resolution to fix this. I've tried to hi-lite the fx bar and press F9 as some have suggested but this doesn't change anything.

2013-11-22 10:57:30


I'm using Excel for Mac 2008 and would like the formula bar to be permanently displayed.

The pathway described above - indeed 'options' in general - does not seem to exist.


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