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: Dealing with Long Formulas.

Dealing with Long Formulas

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 26, 2016)

2

Anyone who has been using Excel for any length of time knows that some formulas can get quite long. Excel handles them—as long as they are constructed correctly—but they can be a bear for humans to understand. Even after you develop your own formulas, you may have trouble understanding them weeks or months later.

One way to make formulas a bit easier to understand is to use Alt+Enter in the middle of the formula to "format" how it appears on the screen. Consider, for instance, the following long formula:

=+IF($A2=0,0,IF($B2<4264,0,IF(AND($B2>=4264,$B2<=4895),
(-22.31*$C2/365),IF(AND($B2>=4895,$B2<=32760),($B2*0.093-
476.89)*$C2/365,IF($B2>32760,($B2*0.128-1623.49)*$C2/365)))))

This formula could also be written in the following manner, with Alt+Enter being pressed at the end of each line in the formula:

=+IF($A1=0,0,
IF($B1<4264,0,
IF(AND($B1>=4264,$B1<=4895),(-22.31*$C1/365),
IF(AND($B1>=4895,$B1<=32760),($B1*0.093-476.89)*$C1/365,
IF($B1>32760,($B1*0.128-1623.49)*$C1/365)))))

Now, the broken-up formula appears on five lines, even though it all appears in a single cell. The broken-up formula works just as if it were all on one line.

In addition, if you copy the complete broken-up formula from the Formula bar and paste it into a worksheet, each line in the formula is pasted into a different cell, making it easy to test each part. This is much quicker than copying and pasting parts of the original formula.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3043) 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: Dealing with Long 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

Combinations for Members in Meetings

Got a large group of people listed in a worksheet and you want to make sure that each person has met with every other person ...

Discover More

Defining Protected Sections as a Building Block

Building Blocks can be very useful in creating documents from standard parts and pieces. But what if the text you want to use ...

Discover More

Shortcut Key for Format Painter

The Format Painter is great for copying formatting from one cell to another. If you don't want to grab the mouse to use the ...

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)

Limiting Number of Characters in a Cell

Need to limit the number of characters that can be entered into a cell? One easy way to do it is through the use of Data ...

Discover More

Easily Entering Dispersed Data

Need to enter information into a bunch of cells that aren't anywhere near each other in the worksheet? Here's a handy way to ...

Discover More

Combining Multiple Rows in a Column

Do you need to concatenate the contents of a range of cells in the same column? Here's a formula and a handy macro to make ...

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 8Mpixels. 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 eight more than 8?

2017-03-14 20:14:15

Rob Long

Did not work... my formular is 31 lines long - each line 60 characters long.
I'm doing a formula on a serious of date ranges where each date range holds a title. Thus if something is >= <= the date range - the cell result will be the name of of the range.


2016-10-20 07:39:03

sitim

Hi there,

I got a long equation to fit in the excel.I have tried so many times but it never work. Can u pls help me with this?
= EXP[-1.803-0.976(-0.197)+0.976ln(0.560)+2.673ln(20.63)-0.0299[ln(20.63)^2]

Thanks.


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.