Display Results of Formula Inside Cell During Creation

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Would you like to see the values displayed when you are entering a formula but a little fuzzy on how to make that happen?

Get clarity displaying formula values in cell

There are times when you may want to examine the results of a complicated formula from others or as you are creating one inside the cell. This can save time and frustration and avoid the dreaded error message after you hit ENTER or TAB.

If you want to look at the results of a particular part of a formula as you type, or after you or someone else has entered it, use a couple of function keys to complete the process.

Display Formula Values During Formula Creation

Here is a simple example of how handy this can be where we are adding sales of only two of the products, adding fees and dividing by cost, with the formula being entered in H9:

=(B9+E9)*G9/F9

Example displaying formula values in the cell

If I want to know the value of G9/F9 before completing the formula, I can do this directly in the cell.

  1. In the results cell (in this case, H9), type the formula.
  2. Select the part of the formula whose value you want to see. Here, it would be G9/F9.
  3. Press F9. Excel replaces that part of the formula with its result.

Selected portion of formula displays values

If this is the correct result, press ENTER or TAB, and Excel completes the formula and moves to requested cell. You could also press ESC to return to your formula and stay in the cell. Be careful here. If you are creating, not editing a previous entry, ESC will revert to whatever the cell contents were prior to your entry (such as a blank cell).

Display Formula Values Editing Existing Formula

If the formula already exists and you want to display the value, the steps are the same except you need to be in Edit mode in the cell:

  1. Click in the cell and press F2 to edit the formula in the cell. *
  2. Select the part of the formula whose value you want to see (G9/F9).
  3. Press F9. Excel replaces that part of the formula with its result.

*Note: Since the content already exists, you could also double click in the cell to edit. Only difference is that F2 places your insert marker at the end of the contents, and wherever you double click, the insert displays at that point.

Use the Ribbon to Evaluate Formula

There is another way to evaluate a formula by each cell reference – Select the Formulas tab, Formula Auditing group and click on Evaluate formula icon to bring up the Evaluate dialog box.

Example of Evaluate Formula dialog box

Click Evaluate button to see formula results as you move through each cell reference. This is a great way to walk through a formula you are not too familiar with and/or someone else created and has you scratching your head.

Now you can know what is going on in your worksheet before you press Print or Send!

Let me know if you have used these features or how they can help you in the future…

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