How to Show All Formulas in Excel

admin31 March 2023Last Update :

Unveiling the Magic Behind the Numbers: How to Show All Formulas in Excel

Excel is a powerhouse tool that’s essential for a myriad of business operations, data analysis, and financial modeling. At the heart of its functionality are formulas, the secret sauce that automates calculations and transforms raw data into insightful information. However, as your Excel workbook grows in complexity, keeping track of all the formulas can become a daunting task. In this article, we’ll explore the various methods to reveal every formula within your Excel sheets, ensuring that you maintain control over your data and its underlying calculations.

Understanding the Importance of Displaying Formulas

Before diving into the “how,” let’s briefly discuss the “why.” Displaying formulas in Excel can be incredibly beneficial for several reasons:

  • Debugging: It helps identify errors or inconsistencies in your formulas.
  • Review: It allows for a quick review of the formulas used, making it easier for others to understand your work.
  • Learning: For those new to Excel, seeing the formulas in action is a great way to learn how they work.
  • Editing: It simplifies the process of updating formulas or fixing mistakes.

With these advantages in mind, let’s explore the methods to show all formulas in Excel.

Method 1: Using the Show Formulas Feature

The quickest way to display all formulas in an Excel worksheet is by using the built-in ‘Show Formulas’ feature. Here’s how you can activate it:

  1. Open your Excel workbook and navigate to the worksheet you want to review.
  2. Go to the Formulas tab on the Excel ribbon.
  3. Click on the Show Formulas button in the ‘Formula Auditing’ group.

Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + ` (the grave accent key, found next to the number 1 on most keyboards). Pressing this shortcut again will toggle off the display of formulas, returning you to the normal view.

Method 2: Adjusting Excel Options

If you prefer setting this feature through Excel options, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the File tab and select Options to open the Excel Options dialog box.
  2. In the Excel Options dialog box, select the Advanced category on the left side.
  3. Scroll down to the ‘Display options for this worksheet’ section.
  4. Check the box next to Show formulas in cells instead of their calculated results.
  5. Click OK to apply the changes.

This method will apply the change to the selected worksheet only. If you have multiple sheets, you’ll need to repeat these steps for each one.

Method 3: Using Cell Formatting to Reveal Formulas

Another creative way to show formulas is by changing the cell formatting to display the formula as text. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Select the cells containing the formulas you want to display.
  2. Right-click on the selected cells and choose Format Cells from the context menu.
  3. In the Format Cells dialog box, go to the Number tab.
  4. Select Text from the category list.
  5. Click OK.

Now, when you enter a formula into a cell formatted as text, Excel will display the formula itself instead of the calculated result. Remember to reformat the cells back to their original format to reactivate the calculation functionality.

Method 4: Using Excel’s Trace Precedents and Dependents Features

While not a direct method to show all formulas, Excel’s Trace Precedents and Dependents features can help you visualize how formulas are interconnected. Here’s how to use these features:

  1. Select a cell with a formula you want to trace.
  2. Go to the Formulas tab and find the ‘Formula Auditing’ group.
  3. Click on Trace Precedents to see arrows that show which cells affect the selected cell’s formula.
  4. Click on Trace Dependents to see arrows that indicate which cells are affected by the selected cell’s formula.

These features are particularly useful for understanding and debugging complex formulas that involve multiple cells.

Method 5: Printing Formulas for Documentation

Sometimes, you may need a hard copy of your formulas for documentation or review purposes. Here’s how to print a worksheet with formulas displayed:

  1. Use one of the methods above to show all formulas on your worksheet.
  2. Go to the File tab and select Print.
  3. In the Print settings, ensure that the ‘Print Active Sheets’ option is selected.
  4. Click on Print to get a physical copy of your worksheet with formulas visible.

This can be a handy reference when working offline or sharing your work with others who may not have access to Excel.

Method 6: Utilizing Excel’s Find and Replace to Highlight Formulas

If you want to highlight cells that contain formulas, you can use Excel’s Find and Replace feature with a special trick:

  1. Press Ctrl + F to open the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click on the Replace tab.
  3. In the ‘Find what’ field, type

    (since all formulas start with an equals sign).

  4. Leave the ‘Replace with’ field empty.
  5. Click on Find All to list all cells with formulas.
  6. Close the Find and Replace dialog box.
  7. With the cells still selected from the search, apply a highlight color or a specific format to make them stand out.

This method won’t show the actual formulas but will help you quickly identify which cells contain them.

Method 7: Creating a Formula Report with VBA

For those comfortable with Excel’s VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), creating a macro to generate a report of all formulas in a workbook can be a powerful solution. Here’s a simple VBA script that lists all formulas in a new worksheet:

Sub ListFormulas()
    Dim ws As Worksheet
    Dim newSheet As Worksheet
    Dim r As Range
    Dim i As Long
    Set newSheet = Sheets.Add
    newSheet.Name = "Formula Report"
    i = 1
    For Each ws In ThisWorkbook.Worksheets
        For Each r In ws.UsedRange
            If r.HasFormula Then
                newSheet.Cells(i, 1).Value = ws.Name
                newSheet.Cells(i, 2).Value = r.Address
                newSheet.Cells(i, 3).Value = r.Formula
                i = i + 1
            End If
        Next r
    Next ws
End Sub

To use this script, press Alt + F11 to open the VBA editor, insert a new module, and paste the code above. Running this macro will create a new sheet in your workbook listing all formulas along with their worksheet names and cell addresses.

FAQ Section

Can I show formulas in Excel without affecting how they work?

Yes, you can display formulas using the ‘Show Formulas’ feature or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + `, which will not affect their functionality.

Is there a way to show formulas in Excel when printing?

Yes, you can print a worksheet with formulas visible by first displaying all formulas on-screen and then using the standard print function.

How can I quickly find cells with formulas in Excel?

You can use the Find and Replace feature to search for the equals sign


, which is present at the beginning of all formulas, and then highlight those cells.

Can I use a formula to show other formulas in Excel?

No, Excel does not allow a formula to display other formulas directly. However, you can use the methods described above to reveal all formulas in a worksheet.

Is it possible to show formulas in Excel for one column only?

Yes, you can select the cells in a single column and use the ‘Show Formulas’ feature or change the cell formatting to ‘Text’ to display formulas for that column only.


Mastering the art of displaying formulas in Excel is crucial for anyone looking to deepen their understanding of this versatile tool. Whether you’re a seasoned data analyst or a newcomer to Excel, knowing how to reveal the underlying calculations in your spreadsheets can enhance your productivity and accuracy. By employing the methods outlined in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to manage and audit your Excel formulas with confidence.

Remember, Excel is not just about crunching numbers—it’s about telling a story with your data. And sometimes, that story is best told by showing the formulas that weave the narrative together. So go ahead, pull back the curtain, and let your formulas shine!

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