There are 5 reasons for your Excel formula not calculating are many. In this tutorial we explain these scenarios.

The first thing that you should check is that the calculation options are not set to manual. This is the most likely problem.

Click the **Formulas** tab and then the **Calculation Options** button.

If this is set to manual, the formulas will not update unless you press the **Calculate Now** or **Calculate Sheet** buttons.

Change it to **Automatic** and the formulas will start working.

This setting can be changed by macros, or by other workbooks that you may have opened first. So if you are not aware of this setting, it could still be a reason for the formula not calculating.

Another common reasons is accidentally formatting the cells containing formulas as text. These will not calculate whilst in this format.

To check this; click on the cell and check the Number group of the **Home** tab.

If it displays **Text**. Change the format to **General** using the list provided.

Then re-calculate the formula in the cell by double clicking on the cell and pressing Enter.

When typing the formula be sure not to enter a space before the equals. This is difficult to notice so can go unrecognised, however it will prevent the formula from calculating.

Double click the cell, or edit it in the Formula Bar. Check if there is a space and if so delete it. The formula will update.

When an apostrophe (‘) is entered before typing in Excel, that tells Excel to store the content as text. This is a common approach to store numbers such as phone numbers as text to retain the leading zeros.

This however could be the reason why your formula is not calculating.

The apostrophe will not be visible in the cell on the spreadsheet, but you can see it in the Formula Bar.

Double click the cell, or edit it in the Formula Bar and delete the apostrophe.

The final reason could be that the **Show Formulas** button on the **Formulas** tab is turned on. This can easily be done accidentally, or possibly by someone else using this workbook previously.

This button is used when auditing formulas. It shows the formula instead of the formula result, stopping them from calculating. This can be helpful when troubleshooting formula problems.

Simply click the **Show Formulas** button again to turn it off and the formula will be working.

Writing formulas can have you tearing your hair out especially when you start nesting them. Here are 4 tips to help you troubleshoot when things go wrong.

Some think the Function Wizard is for beginners but seriously, who can remember what the cryptic syntax is for every function.

So, when you get stuck simply click on the Function Wizard button to the left of the formula bar to jump in, even when you’re in the middle of writing a formula.

It’ll take you from here:

To here:

Now you have some helpful information about the function and meaning of each argument.

The syntax tool pops up as soon as you start to enter your formula.

You can move it out of the way by hovering your mouse on the very edge of the tool tip until you get the 4 headed arrow and then drag it into place:

You can also use the syntax tool to jump to a section of your formula.

Hover your mouse over the argument you want to select and when it turns blue with an underline click on it to go to that section of your formula:

See how the value_if_true argument in the formula above is highlighted to show it is selected.

When working with complex nested formulas you’ll often run into problems and it can be difficult to narrow down the cause.

The F9 key allows you to evaluate parts of your formula in isolation.

For example if I wanted to evaluate the logical_test, which is the AND function nested in my formula, I can select it using the syntax tool link:

Then press the F9 key to evaluate just that part:

And we can see it evaluates to FALSE.

You can continue selecting different parts of the formula to evaluate them one by one.

Pressing CTRL+Z will reverse the effect of the last F9 pressed. Or if you have already entered the formula pressing the Escape key will exit out of edit mode and put the formula back as it was.

The evaluate formula tool is similar to the F9 key however you cannot choose which part of the formula you want to evaluate, it will evaluate in order, which is great if you’re trying to understand how a formula works.

You’ll find it on the **Formulas tab** in the **Formula Auditing Group**:

To use it simply select the cell containing your formula and click the **Evaluate Formula** button which opens the dialog box:

This will evaluate the formula in order. Each click of the button evaluates the next section of the formula and so on.

You can also **Step In** and **Step Out** of different sections of the formula for more information on the source of different components.

**About the author**: Mynda Treacy is co-founder of My Online Training Hub, author of their comprehensive Excel Formulas library, and popular Excel Blog.