Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 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: Evaluating Formulas.

Evaluating Formulas

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 4, 2021)

2

Often it is frustrating to figure out exactly how Excel arrives at a particular result—particularly if the formula returning the result is quite complex. Fortunately, Excel provides a tool you can use to help figure out what is going on when Excel evaluates a formula. To access this tool, follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell containing the formula you want to evaluate.
  2. Choose Formula Auditing from the Tools menu. Excel displays a submenu.
  3. Form the submenu choose Evaluate Formula. Excel displays the Evaluate Formula dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Evaluate Formula dialog box.

At this point, Excel shows the full formula from the cell, and part of it is underlined. This underlined area represents the part of the formula that Excel will next evaluate. This allows you to see what intermediate steps Excel follows in arriving at a result. Every time you click the Evaluate button, Excel replaces the underlined portion of the formula with a result.

Nothing you do with the formula evaluator actually affects the formula in your worksheet; it remains unchanged. Instead, Excel simply shows you what happens as it works through each part of the formula to arrive at a result. When you are done using the formula evaluator, click the Close button.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2999) applies to Microsoft Excel 2002 and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Evaluating 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

Functions that Can Access Closed Workbooks

When creating a workbook, you can include formulas that reference data stored in other workbooks. Some functions will ...

Discover More

Merging Custom Dictionaries

It is possible to develop a custom dictionary on your computer that reflects the types of documents with which you work ...

Discover More

Getting Rid of the "Enable Macros" Notice

Do you get tired of the dialog box that says "do you want to enable macros" that is displayed when you open a workbook. ...

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)

Viewing Formula Results

When editing information in a cell, you may need to know the result of a portion of your formula. The shortcut described ...

Discover More

Using Named Formulas or Constants

An easy way to create a name for a formula or constant value. The name can then be used in other formulas or for ...

Discover More

Determining Business Quarters from Dates

Many businesses organize information according to calendar quarters, especially when it comes to fiscal information. ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 seven minus 2?

2016-12-05 13:24:15

Willy Vanhaelen

@Thomas

Even shorter, instead of Ctrl+= you can simply press F9.


2016-12-04 03:26:52

Thomas Papavasiliou

Another alternative:
In edit mode, select the part of the formula you want to evaluate and press Ctrl+=
Excel evaluates that part and displays it in the formula bar.
If you are happy with the result, press Enter and the evaluated part replaces the selection. If you press escape you get back to your original formula.


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.