When your Excel formula are is calculating, or not updating, it can be very frustrating. Your formulas are the driving force for your spreadsheet.
There are 5 reasons for your Excel formula not calculating. In this tutorial we explain these 5 scenarios.
Watch the Video
1. Calculation Options is Set to Manual
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.
2. The Cell is Formatted as Text
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.
3. A Space is Entered Before the Equals
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.
4. An Apostrophe is Entered Storing the Formula as Text
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.
5. The Show Formulas button is Turned On
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.
More Awesome Excel Tutorials
- Using Wildcard characters in Excel formulas
- Prevent formulas from showing in the Formula Bar
- Troubleshooting formulas in Excel
- Formula to extract a postcode from a UK address
- Is Udemy the right E-learning platform for you?