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

Showing formulas in Excel is incredibly useful for troubleshooting and auditing your work. It’s a simple process: just press a few keys, and voilà, all the hidden formulas in your worksheet are revealed. This guide will walk you through each step to make sure you can easily show or hide formulas whenever you need to.

How to Show Formulas in Excel

In this section, you’ll learn how to display formulas in your Excel spreadsheet instead of the resulting values. This is useful for understanding how your data is calculated and for debugging errors.

Step 1: Open Your Excel Workbook

First, open the Excel file where you want to show the formulas.

You can do this by launching Excel and selecting the file from your recent documents or by navigating through your folders.

Step 2: Select the Worksheet

Navigate to the specific worksheet where you want to see the formulas.

Click on the worksheet tab at the bottom of your Excel window. This ensures that you’re looking at the right set of data.

Step 3: Use the Show Formulas Command

Go to the "Formulas" tab on the Ribbon, then click on "Show Formulas" in the Formula Auditing group.

This action changes the display from values to the actual formulas used in the cells.

Step 4: Use the Keyboard Shortcut

Alternatively, press Ctrl + (the grave accent key) to toggle between showing formulas and values.

This keyboard shortcut is a quick way to switch views without navigating through the Ribbon.

Step 5: Save Your Workbook

After you’ve reviewed your formulas, don’t forget to save your workbook.

This ensures that any changes or observations you’ve made are not lost.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be able to see all the formulas in your worksheet instead of the calculated values. This can make it easier to pinpoint errors or understand the calculations driving your data.

Tips for Showing Formulas in Excel

  • Use Excel Options: You can also show formulas by going to File > Options > Advanced, and then checking the "Show formulas in cells instead of their calculated results" option.
  • Zoom In: Increase the zoom level to make sure you can see all parts of the formulas.
  • Check for Hidden Rows/Columns: Ensure no rows or columns are hidden, as they might contain important formulas.
  • Use Named Ranges: Named ranges can make formulas easier to understand when they are displayed.
  • Regular Checks: Regularly switch to formula view to catch mistakes early.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does showing formulas in Excel mean?

Showing formulas instead of values means you’ll see the actual formula used in each cell, helping you understand how the data is calculated.

Can I print the worksheet with all formulas displayed?

Yes, you can print the worksheet with formulas displayed by simply showing the formulas on the screen and then printing as usual.

Why can’t I see the "Show Formulas" button?

If the "Show Formulas" button is not visible, you might be in a different Ribbon tab. Make sure you are in the "Formulas" tab.

How do I switch back to showing values?

To switch back to showing values, you can click the "Show Formulas" button again or press Ctrl + (the grave accent key).

Will showing formulas affect calculations?

No, showing formulas will not affect any calculations. It’s purely a display feature.


  1. Open your Excel workbook.
  2. Select the worksheet.
  3. Use the Show Formulas command.
  4. Use the keyboard shortcut (Ctrl +).
  5. Save your workbook.


Showing formulas in Excel is a handy tool for anyone working with complex spreadsheets. It allows you to see the underlying structure of your data, which is crucial for troubleshooting and ensuring accuracy. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or just someone who loves working with data, knowing how to show and hide formulas can save you a lot of time and headaches.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can easily switch between displaying values and formulas. This flexibility helps you keep your data transparent and understandable. Remember, the more you practice, the easier it will become.

So, the next time you find yourself puzzled by a tricky formula or error, just show the formulas and take a closer look. You’ll be able to diagnose and fix issues faster, making you more efficient and confident in your Excel skills. Keep practicing, and soon, using Excel will feel like second nature!

Get Our Free Newsletter

How-to guides and tech deals

You may opt out at any time.
Read our Privacy Policy