Excel Formulas Not Calculating Automatically (6 Possible Solutions)

Microsoft Excel is a widely used application for doing automatic calculations. But, sometimes, Excel formulas are not calculating automatically. In this article, we are going to demonstrate to you 6 possible solutions to the issue of formulas that are not calculating automatically in Excel. If you are also curious about it, download our practice workbook and follow us.

Here is the overview of today’s article.

Excel Formulas Not Calculating Automatically: 6 Possible Solutions

We’ve selected a dataset that represents the sales statement of January, February, and March. Our dataset contains 5 columns: Product, Sales in January, February and March, and Total Sales. Excel formulas not calculating automatically our dataset. We will fix this problem using this dataset.

Notes: All the operations of this article are accomplished by using the Microsoft Office 365 application. So, the position of some commands may vary a little.

1. Modifying Calculation Options

While the Calculation Options feature is Manual, if you change any data then the Excel formulas are not calculating automatically.

2-Choose the Manual option

Solution: Set Calculation Options as Automatic

You can solve this issue by setting the Manual option to the Automatic option. Let’s follow the instructions below to learn!

  • Go to the Formulas tab >> Click on the Calculation Options option drop-down arrow from the Calculation group >> Select Automatic option.
  • You will notice that the formula will update automatically.

3-Select the Automatic feature

You can also do that by changing some features from the Excel Options dialog box.

  • Go to the File tab >> Select Options option.

4-Selection of the Options feature

  • As a result, an Excel Options dialog box will appear. Now, click on the Formula tab >> Set the Workbook Calculation option as Automatic >> Click OK.

5-Choose Automatic feature from Excel Options dialog box

Hence, we can say that our approach works effectively, and we are able to resolve the problem of formulas not calculating automatically in Excel.

Read More: [Solved]: Excel Formulas Not Updating Until Save

2. Cell Value Is Formatted as Text

Another common reason is unintentionally formatting cells that contain formulas as text. That’s why the Excel formulas are not calculating automatically.

6-Cell value is formatted as Text

Solution: Converting Text Value to Number Format

If we convert the Text value to Number format, the formula will calculate automatically. Let’s follow the instructions below to learn!

  • Select cell E6 and press Ctrl + 1 As a result, the Format Cells dialog box pops up. From that dialog box, select Number tab >. Choose Number from the Category drop-down list >> Check the Use 1000 Separator(,) option >> Press the OK option.

7-Converting Text Value to Number Format

  • Finally, the Excel formula calculates automatically.

8- Excel formula calculates automatically


If the cell that contains the Formula is in text format then the formula is not calculating automatically. To solve this issue, simply convert the text value to a Number or General format.

9-Excel formulas not calculating automatically

Read More: [Fixed!] Formula Not Working in Excel and Showing as Text

3. Presence of Apostrophes in Dataset

The presence of an apostrophe sign in the dataset does not allow the Excel formula to calculate value automatically. You may notice in the image we have a similar type of trouble in our dataset. We have several trapped apostrophes in cells from C6 to E16.

11-The presence of an apostrophe can result in a wrong calculation

Solution: Removing Apostrophes or Leading Spaces

We will remove an apostrophe sign or leading space one by one. Let’s follow the instructions below to fix the problem!

  • At the start, select a cell where the apostrophe sign is trapped. First, we click on cell C8. Though the sign is not showing in the cell, you can figure it out by observing the data alignment.

12-Presence of Apostrophe in cell C8

  • Now, click on the Formula Bar and press the Delete button to delete the apostrophe sign manually >> Press Enter.

13-Removing Apostrophe from cell

  • Similarly, delete the other trapped apostrophes sign from the cells that contain the apostrophes symbol.

14-Removing all apostrophes symbol

Finally, we can say that our example works successfully, and we are able to resolve the trouble of formulas not calculating automatically.

4. Excel Formulas Not Calculating Automatically Due to Leading or Trailing Spaces

The Excel formulas are not automatically calculating due to the Leading or Trailing spaces. From our dataset, you may notice several leading or trailing spaces. That’s why the Excel formulas are not calculating automatically.

4.1-Excel formulas not calculating automatically due to leading or trailing spaces

Solution: Removing Leading or Trailing Spaces

You can fix this problem by removing the leading or trailing spaces from your dataset. Go through the process below to fix the problem!

  • Select a cell where the leading or trailing spaces are trapped >> Click on the Formula Bar and press the Backspace button to delete the leading or trailing spaces manually >> Press Enter.
  • Similarly, delete the other trapped leading or trailing spaces from the cells that contain the leading or trailing spaces.

4.2-Removing all of the leading or trailing spaces

5. Wrong Cell Reference

In the early stages of learning Excel, one of the fundamental concepts we encounter is utilizing the dollar ($) symbol to anchor cell references. For instance,

  • While typing =B5 into a cell and AutoFill it down, it will change to =B6
  • While typing =$B$5 into a cell and AutoFill it down, it will remain as =$B$5

We quickly become accustomed to the referencing syntax, but its familiarity can lead to errors when copying formulas to different cells.

17-Using wrong cell reference

In the above screenshot, we are using the absolute reference that’s why the Excel formula shows the same result in the months of February and March.

Solution: Use Appropriate Cell Reference

To get the correct result, simply remove the dollar symbol from the Excel formula. Firstly, select cell C17 and remove the dollar symbol from the formula. Hence, AutoFill the formula up to column E. As a result, you can solve your problem.

18-Removing dollar symbol from formula

Notes: Binary to Decimal Conversion

Computers utilize binary, a system composed of a combination of 1s and 0s, to store numbers. However, our understanding of numbers is based on the decimal system, which operates on a base 10. Consequently, Excel needs to convert numbers between binary and decimal formats, sometimes resulting in unexpected disparities.

The maximum accuracy of Excel’s calculations is 15 significant digits. Therefore, due to the conversion from binary to decimal, there could be very slight rounding errors. Even while this might not matter, if it is included in a logical argument, it can produce a different outcome.

6. Numbers Enclosed in Double Quotes

Another issue arises when numbers are enclosed in double quotes, leading to a mix-up between text and numeric values. The Excel formula is not calculating automatically. In the below image, we notice that the SUM function returns the wrong output.

6.1-The SUM function returns the wrong output

  • We are using double quotes in the IF function. As a result, some numbers are treated as text. That’s why the SUM function gives the wrong output.

6.2-The IF function enclosed number with double quotes

Solution: Use Proper Arguments in an Excel Formula

We can fix this problem by removing the double quotes from the IF function’s arguments. As a result, the SUM function is calculating automatically which has been given in the below screenshot.

6.3-Removing double quotes from Excel formula

Read More: [Fixed!] SUM Formula Not Working in Excel

Tips Users Should Follow to Fix Formulas That are Not Calculating Automatically in Excel

You can also fix the problem by following the below tips.

1. Applying Proper Cell Formatting

Choosing the wrong cell formatting is another cause for Excel formulas not calculating the values automatically. The procedure to set the suitable cell formatting is explained below step-by-step:

  • Select the range of cells C6:E16 >> Hit the Home tab >> Choose a suitable format from the Number group >> We chose the Currency format for our cells.

10-Chose the Currency format for our cells

  • As a result, your can solve your problem.

So, we can say that our procedure works fruitfully, and we are able to get rid of the difficulty.


While entering 12/10 into a cell, what do we want to get the return from that cell? Do you want to get the result of 12? Or do we want to get the result of 10th December? In this instant, Excel automatically assumes that we desire the 10th of December of the current year.

The most frequent type of automatic conversion in Excel pertains to dates. In Excel, dates are represented as numbers, indicating the number of days since December 31, 1899. Our current year is 2023. If we enter 12/10, Excel thinks we want to get the 10th of December. Excel returns 45271 as the number of that date.

15.1-Automatic conversion of Dates to Number

2. Uncheck Circular Reference Option

The activation of the circular reference option sometimes causes trouble for Excel formulas in evaluating values automatically. We must turn off this feature so that the Excel formulas can work automatically. Let’s go through the process to learn!

  • Go to the Formula tab >> Click on the drop-down arrow of the Error Checking option from the Formula Auditing group >> Turn off the Circular Reference command.

15-Unchecking Circular Reference option

  • Hence, your Excel formula will not face any difficulty in actuation estimation.

In the end, we can say that our process works properly, and we are able to solve the problem.

3. Turn Off Show Formulas Command

To solve the problem, we can turn off the Show Formula command. It will help us to fix the issue, which is the Excel formula not estimating automatically. Let’s follow the instructions below to learn!

  • Select the Formula tab >> From the Formula Auditing group, click on the Show Formula option to turn off it.

16-Turning off the Show Formula feature

  • You will figure out that the formula will calculate the value automatically.

Therefore, we can say that our method works precisely, and we are able to fix the issue.

What Are the Reasons for Using the Manual Calculation Mode in  Excel?

There are several reasons why you might choose to use the Manual Calculation Options in Excel:

  1. Control over Calculation: With manual calculation, you have the ability to control when Excel calculates formulas. By default, Excel automatically recalculates all formulas whenever a change is made to a cell. However, in manual calculation mode, you can choose to recalculate the formulas manually, giving you more control over when calculations occur.
  2. Performance Improvement: Manual calculation can improve the performance of Excel, especially when working with large and complex spreadsheets. Automatic recalculation after every change can slow down Excel’s responsiveness. By using manual calculation, you can make multiple changes to the spreadsheet and then recalculate all the formulas at once, saving processing power and improving efficiency.
  3. Error Detection and Troubleshooting: Manual calculation mode allows you to review and audit your formulas before performing calculations. This can help identify errors and inconsistencies in the spreadsheet. By manually triggering the recalculation, you can verify the accuracy of formulas, check for potential errors, and debug any issues that may arise.
  4. Data Validation: In certain cases, you may need to validate data before performing calculations. Manual calculation mode allows you to input and verify data without triggering automatic recalculations. This ensures that the data is accurate and complete before performing calculations, helping maintain data integrity.
  5. Avoiding Circular References: Circular references occur when a formula refers to the cell it is located in, creating an infinite loop of calculations. Manual calculation mode can help identify and resolve circular references by requiring you to manually recalculate the formulas. This makes it easier to identify and correct circular references, preventing calculation errors.
  6. Resource Management: Automatic calculation consumes computer resources, especially in large spreadsheets. By using manual calculation mode, you can conserve system resources, reduce CPU usage, and optimize the performance of your computer.

It’s important to note that when using manual calculation mode, you need to remember to manually recalculate the formulas to ensure accurate results.

How to Force Formulas to Recalculate Excel Workbook or Worksheet

In the event that you require the Calculation option to be set to Manual, there are two methods to compel the recalculation of formulas: utilizing the Calculate button on the ribbon or employing one of the following shortcuts.

➤ You can perform the following actions to recalculate an active sheet:

  • Hit Shift + F9 simultaneously, or
  • Go to the Formulas tab >> Select the Calculate Sheet feature from the Calculation

➤ To recalculate the entire workbook, you can perform following actions:

  • Press F9 key, or
  • From the Formulas tab, select the Calculate Now feature from the Calculation

19-Recalculate Excel sheet using keyboard shortcut

➤ You can also recalculate the all sheets in all open workbooks by pressing Ctrl + Alt + F9 simultaneously.

In order to recalculate a specific formula on a sheet, perform the following actions:

  1. Choose the cell containing the formula.
  2. Enter the editing mode by pressing F2 or double-clicking the cell.
  3. Press the Enter key to execute the recalculation.

Things to Remember

  • Press the “F9” key to manually recalculate the active worksheet. This can help if there are specific cells or formulas that need to be recalculated.
  • Ensure that the cells containing the formulas are formatted as “General” or the appropriate format for the expected result. Improper formatting can cause incorrect or no calculations.
  • Circular references occur when a formula refers to the cell containing the formula itself. Excel may not calculate circular references automatically. Identify and resolve any circular reference errors.
  • If your formulas include external references to other workbooks or files, ensure that the linked files are accessible and the formulas are correctly referencing them.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What should I do if pressing F9 doesn’t recalculate the formulas?

Answer: If pressing F9 doesn’t trigger a recalculation, check if the formulas have external references to other files or workbooks. Ensure that these references are valid and the linked files are accessible. Also, check if any specific calculation dependencies or settings are preventing automatic recalculation.

2. How can I troubleshoot formulas not calculating in a specific range of cells?

Answer: If formulas are not calculating in a specific range, check if there are any conditional formatting rules or data validation settings that may be preventing calculations. Verify that the cells are formatted correctly and that there are no manual overrides inhibiting automatic calculation.

3. Can protected cells or worksheets affect formula calculation?

Answer: Yes, protected cells or worksheets can restrict formula calculation. Ensure that the necessary cells or worksheets are not locked or protected if they require automatic calculation.

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I would like to address the problem of Excel formulas not automatically calculating. I hope that this article will be helpful for you and you will be able to fix the problem of formulas that are not calculating automatically in Excel. Please share any further queries or recommendations with us in the comments section below if you have any further questions or recommendations.

Keep learning new methods and keep growing!

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Soumik Dutta
Soumik Dutta

Soumik Dutta, having earned a BSc in Naval Architecture & Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, plays a key role as an Excel & VBA Content Developer at ExcelDemy. Driven by a profound passion for research and innovation, he actively immerses himself in Excel. In his role, Soumik not only skillfully addresses complex challenges but also demonstrates enthusiasm and expertise in gracefully navigating tough situations, underscoring his unwavering commitment to consistently deliver exceptional, high-quality content that... Read Full Bio

  1. Hi, Mr Soumit Dutta,

    Thanks for your advise on the error of Excel formula not calculating automatically. But my problem is the formula that had been used for more than 12 years, now was prompt error. The formula had been using under same workbook adding 12 worksheets as follow:


    Can you kindly advise me how to touch up such error. Every year end I need to ‘Sum up the total salaries of the year.

    Thanks you in advance.

    Best Regards

    • Reply Lutfor Rahman Shimanto
      Lutfor Rahman Shimanto Feb 25, 2024 at 10:14 AM

      Hi Chua!

      It brings me great joy to know that you found our advice helpful. You are most welcome. As for troubleshooting your problem, it would be best if you could provide us with the Excel file. However, you could use the following steps to try to solve your problem on your own.

      1. Go to your workbook. Right-click on the sheet tab where you are performing your calculation and select View Code.
      2. Inside the code writing space, write the following code:
        Private Sub Worksheet_Change(ByVal Target As Range)
            Call ForcedReCalculation
        End Sub
        Sub ForcedReCalculation()
        End Sub
      3. Save your workbook (as .xlsm format)
      4. Rerun your calculation.

      If your problem is not yet solved, please join our ExcelDemy Forum and post this problem with your Excel file attached to it.




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