What is the Shortcut to Show Formulas in Excel: Multiple Methods

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Written By Chris

Just a simple "data guy". Changing the world one formula at a time.

Excel, the versatile spreadsheet software, is a powerful tool for performing calculations and data analysis with the aid of complex formulas. When working extensively with formulas, it’s often helpful to view them directly in the cells instead of the results they compute. With just a simple shortcut, you can toggle between viewing the results and the underlying formulas, making troubleshooting and auditing your Excel workbook a breeze.

To reveal the formulas behind the magic in your cells, you’ll need to harness the power of quick keyboard shortcuts. Pressing Ctrl + ` (that’s the grave accent key, found next to the number 1 on most keyboards) will instantaneously display all the formulas in your worksheet. This shortcut is a handy trick to keep up your sleeve, transforming the cell contents into their formulaic origins with the swift agility of a spreadsheet ninja.

But that’s not the only one!

Show Formulas in Excel with a Shortcut Key

In Excel, efficiency is key, and knowing the right keyboard shortcuts can enhance your workflow dramatically. To quickly show formulas instead of the calculated results, you can rely on handy keyboard shortcuts. Your productivity can get a significant boost from familiarizing yourself with these keys, which display formulas with a press of a button.

Shortcut Key F2

To edit a cell or view the formula within a particular cell, F2 is your go-to key. Once you select a cell and press F2, Excel switches to edit mode, and the formula in that cell is now accessible to you. This quick access allows you to make necessary edits or to simply review the formula without using the formula bar.

CTRL + ` (Grave Accent Key)

ctrl and grave accent key shortcut

For showing all formulas in your workbook at once, press CTRL + ` (the grave accent key). This keyboard shortcut is the equivalent of a magic wand that reveals the wizardry behind your data, transforming all calculated results into their underlying formulas. It makes verifying and debugging formulas across your entire worksheet a piece of cake. Remember, to revert back to seeing the calculated results, you just press the same shortcut again—it’s like toggling between two worlds.

Navigating the Excel Interface

Using shortcut keys aren’t the only way for troubleshooting and understanding how worksheets are constructed. Let’s break down the different areas and tools you can use to reveal the hidden mathematical wizards behind your data.

Utilizing the Formula Bar

The Formula Bar is your go-to spot for insights into individual cell formulas. You’ll find it sitting proudly above the grid, waiting for you just like a friend who holds all the secrets. Click on any cell with a formula, and watch as the Formula Bar gives away the formula for you to see and edit—no magic spells needed.

Not only can you view and adjust these formulas, but you can also make them permanently visible by adding an apostrophe ( ‘ ) before the equals symbol within the formula bar.

apostrophe before equal sign

Interacting with the Ribbon and Formulas Tab

Your trusty mouse can help you navigate formulas with the Excel Ribbon—the command center at the top of your application window. Within the Formulas tab, you’ll find the Formula Auditing section where the Show Formulas button is just waiting for a click. Push this button, and Excel will unveil all the formulas in the entire worksheet faster than you can say “abracadabra.”

show formulas option in ribbon

Furthermore, you can change the cell, row, or column formatting to TEXT from the Home tab. By changing the format to TEXT, Excel will display the formula as if it is a text string instead of performing the intended calculation.

Using a Formula to Show a Formula

Now, for a bit of Excel-ception: use a formula to show a formula. It’s like holding up a mirror to a mirror, but it’s really quite simple. First, you’d select the cell where you want the formula to be displayed. Next, you’d type in =FORMULATEXT(reference), replacing ‘reference’ with the cell containing the formula you want to display. Who knew formulas could be so meta?

FORMULATEXT to show formulas

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