Why Excel Shows Formulas Instead of Results (7 Reasons)

For example, we have the following dataset and you see Excel is showing formulas in the cells instead of calculated results. Let’s check how we can solve this problem.

Excel is showing this

Reason 1 – Using a Space in Front of Excel Formulas Will Show Only Formulas Instead of Results

All formulas must start with an equal sign first. If there’s another character, such as a space, the cell is converted to text and displays its contents as-is. Here’s a dataset with a space before the equals sign in the formulas in the D column.

Using Space Before Equal Sign for Showing Formula Instead of Result

  • Removing the starting spaces should solve the issue.
  • If the formula still doesn’t calculate, check the cell format and change it to General.

Reason 2 – Not Using the Equals Sign before a Formula

Without an equals sign at the start, Excel treats the cell as a text string or implicitly converts it to a time, date, or other formats, but doesn’t perform calculations.

Missing of Equal Sign

Reason 3 – Enabling the Show Formulas Option

The Show Formulas option from the Formulas ribbon gets enabled by pressing Ctrl+` from the keyboard. Here’s how the dataset will look in this case.

Keeping ‘Show Formula’ Option Enabled

  • Go to the Formula ribbon and disable the Show Formulas mode to fix it.

Keeping ‘Show Formula’ Option Enabled

Reason 4 – Cells in the Text format Will Show Formulas Instead of Values

If the cell is formatted as Text, Excel won’t calculate the formula inside.

Formating Cells as Text

  • Select the cell.
  • Go to the Home tab.
  • In the Number Group, click the Formatting drop-down and select General.
  • Hit the F2 key or double-click the cell.
  • Hit Enter.

Formatting Cells as Text

Reason 5 – Using an Apostrophe Before the Formula

By putting an Apostrophe at the beginning of the cell, Excel considers it as a text string and doesn’t show the result of the formula. This is the same concept as putting a space before the equals sign.

Using Apostrophe Before the Formula

Reason 6 – If the “Show formulas in cells instead of their calculated results” Setting Is on in the Options

In this dataset, the formulas are formatted properly, but the Excel settings are preventing it from displaying the result.

Deactivated ‘Formula Display’ Option for Showing Formula Instead of Result

  • Select the File tab.

Deactivated ‘Formula Display’ Option for Showing Formula Instead of Result

  • Go to the Options.

Deactivated ‘Formula Display’ Option for Showing Formula Instead of Result

  • Click on Advanced.

Deactivated ‘Formula Display’ Option for Showing Formula Instead of Result

  • Go to Display options for this worksheet and select the worksheet name from the drop-down.
  • Make sure that the Show formula in cells instead of their calculated result box is unchecked.

Deactivated ‘Formula Display’ Option for Showing Formula Instead of Result

  • Click OK.
  • Excel is now showing results instead of formulas.

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Nuraida Kashmin
Nuraida Kashmin

Nuraida Kashmin, Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rajshahi University of Engineering & Technology. Since 2021, she wrote 45+ articles on Excel problems and reviewed over 1000 articles. Currently working as a Project Manager, she is responsible for developing and implementing content strategies, managing writers and editors, staying updated on new technology, analyzing data, and tracking content performance indicators. Her interests include Project Management, Creative Writing, Digital Marketing, Reporting, Monitoring & Documentation, and Online Advocacy for SAP &... Read Full Bio

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