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Why do my Spreadsheet Formulas Show Instead of the Result?

Have you ever been working on a spreadsheet and after entering a formula in a cell, you see the formula instead of the result? This article explains what happened and how you can get it back.

This can happen in both Excel and Google Sheets, and I’ll explain how to troubleshoot and correct the problem in both applications.

Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel contain spreadsheet auditing functions to “show formulas.” If ALL your formulas are showing up instead of the result of the formula, I recommend this as the first thing you would check:

In Microsoft Excel:

  1. Click the Formula option on the toolbar Ribbon
  2. Click Show Formulas. This Toggles the display of all formulas on or off. Use it to troubleshoot/verify formulas when you are auditing a spreadsheet.

In Google Sheets:

  1. Click the View option on the menu bar.
  2. Click Show Formulas to toggle the display of all formulas. Again, great for double-checking that your formulas are correct and consistent.

But what if your problem is that only one particular formula is showing up while all the other formulas on the sheet are showing the result?  When this happens, you need to look closely at the cell by clicking it, then viewing the formula details in the editing section. Check out my image at the right, and you will see that it has the “force text” symbol, which is a single quote, in front of the formula.

In both Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets:

Once I remove that extra single quote, the formula displays the result instead.

I hope you find this blog entry helpful! Check back soon for more great computing hints and tips. If you have any you’d like to share, please comment below.

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