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 December 3, 2016)

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

Indenting a Paragraph to the Next Tab Stop

Need to indent an entire paragraph from the left margin? It's easy to do using the tool described in this tip.

Discover More

Calculating an IRR with Varying Interest Rates

You might wonder how you can calculate an IRR (internal rate of return) when the person repaying the loan pays different ...

Discover More

Enabling and Disabling Windows Features

Want to make sure that Windows is trim and fit, using only those features you routinely use? Here's how to enable or ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Pulling Initial Letters from a String

When working with names or a different series of words, you may need to pull the initial letters from each word in the ...

Discover More

Starting Out Formulas

When you enter a formula from the keyboard, Excel only knows it is a formula if you start it with an equal sign. You can ...

Discover More

Alphabetic Column Designation

Want to know the letters assigned by Excel to a particular column? Excel normally deals with column numbers, but you can ...

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 9 + 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.