How to Show Formulas in Excel 2013: A Step-by-Step Guide

Showing formulas in Excel 2013 is incredibly simple. All you need to do is press `Ctrl + “ (the grave accent key), and Excel will switch from displaying the results to showing formulas. This action allows you to see the formulas behind the cells rather than the computed values, which can be quite handy when you need to review or troubleshoot your spreadsheet.

After you complete the action, all the cells in your Excel worksheet that contain a formula will display the formula itself instead of the calculated result. This is especially useful if you’re checking for errors or trying to understand how a particular result was derived.


Excel 2013 is a powerhouse when it comes to dealing with numbers and data. Whether you’re a number-crunching accountant or a data analyst, chances are you spend a good chunk of your day in front of spreadsheets. But have you ever looked at a cell and wondered, “What formula is causing this magic?” Knowing how to display formulas is crucial for anyone who wants to understand the inner workings of an Excel spreadsheet.

Think about it. Excel is like a sophisticated calculator that can perform complex calculations and analyze heaps of data. But what’s the use if you can’t see the underlying formulas? It’s like trying to fix a car without being able to open the hood. By showing the formulas, you can check for errors, understand the logic behind the calculations, and even learn from the structure of the formulas used. This skill is essential for anyone who wants to be proficient in Excel, from students learning the ropes to professionals who need to audit and improve spreadsheets.

How to Show Formulas in Excel 2013

Before we dive into the steps, let’s first understand what we’ll accomplish. By following these steps, you’ll be able to toggle between viewing the formulas and the results of those formulas in your Excel worksheet. It’s a switch that’ll give you a peek behind the numerical curtain.

Step 1: Open your Excel spreadsheet

Open the Excel 2013 spreadsheet that contains the formulas you want to view.

This is your starting point. Make sure you’ve saved any changes before proceeding, as it’s always good to have a backup.

Step 2: Use the keyboard shortcut

Press `Ctrl + “ (the grave accent key) to show formulas.

The grave accent key is usually located on the same key as the tilde (~), which is found to the left of the number 1 on most keyboards. This shortcut is a toggle, so pressing it once will show the formulas, and pressing it again will hide them and show the results.

Step 3: Alternatively, use the Formula Auditing group

Click on the ‘Formulas’ tab and then on the ‘Show Formulas’ button in the ‘Formula Auditing’ group.

If you prefer using the ribbon instead of keyboard shortcuts, this method works just as well. It’s particularly useful if you’re not a fan of memorizing keyboard combinations.


Quick TroubleshootingSeeing the formulas can help you quickly spot and correct any errors in your spreadsheet.
Better UnderstandingIt helps in understanding how the results are computed, which is essential for learning and auditing purposes.
Easy ToggleThis feature can be easily toggled on and off, providing flexibility in how you view your data.


Formula ComplexityComplex formulas can be hard to read and understand when displayed.
Screen ClutterShowing all formulas can make the spreadsheet look cluttered and overwhelming, especially if it’s a large one.
Accidental ChangesThere’s a risk of accidentally modifying formulas when they’re displayed, which can lead to errors.

Additional Information

When working with Excel 2013, showing formulas in a spreadsheet can be a game-changer. It’s like having x-ray vision for your data! But remember, with great power comes great responsibility. When you can see all the formulas, it’s easier to make changes, but be cautious, as one wrong move could throw off your entire dataset. It’s also worth noting that this feature can be a teaching tool. If you’re sharing a spreadsheet with a colleague or student, showing them the formulas can help them understand how you’ve set up the calculations.

Moreover, if you’re presenting your data, you might want to switch back to showing the results to keep things simple for your audience. After all, not everyone is interested in the nitty-gritty details of your Excel wizardry, right? And remember, if you’re ever lost in a sea of formulas, you can always toggle back to see the results and regain your bearings.


  1. Open your Excel spreadsheet.
  2. Press `Ctrl + “ to show formulas.
  3. Alternatively, use the ‘Show Formulas’ button in the ‘Formulas’ tab.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the keyboard shortcut to display formulas in Excel 2013?

The keyboard shortcut is `Ctrl + “ (grave accent key).

Can I show formulas for only specific cells?

When you use the show formulas feature, it applies to the entire worksheet. However, you can select individual cells to view their formulas in the formula bar.

Will showing formulas affect the way my spreadsheet works?

No, it only changes how the data is displayed, not how it is calculated or stored.

Can I print the spreadsheet with the formulas shown?

Yes, if you show the formulas on the screen, they will also appear that way when printed.

Is there a limit to how many formulas I can display at once?

There’s no limit; you can display formulas for as many cells as you have in your spreadsheet.


Knowing how to show formulas in Excel 2013 is like having a backstage pass to a concert. You get to see all the action behind the scenes – the real nuts and bolts that make your spreadsheet sing. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, this knowledge is vital for anyone aiming to master Excel.

It aids in error checking, understanding data, and ultimately, becoming more efficient in data management. So next time you’re lost in a sea of numbers, remember that the power to reveal the formulas is just a couple of clicks (or a shortcut) away. Happy Excel-lence!

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