Excel 2013 Formulas Not Working? Here’s How to Fix It

Excel 2013 is a powerful tool for data analysis and organization, but occasionally users may encounter problems with formulas not working correctly. This can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you’re relying on Excel to perform crucial calculations. If you find yourself in this predicament, don’t worry – fixing the issue is usually straightforward. It often involves checking the formula for errors, ensuring that cell references are correct, and making sure that automatic calculation is enabled.

After completing the action, your Excel formulas should be functioning properly, allowing you to continue working with your data without any hiccups.


When it comes to crunching numbers and organizing data, Excel 2013 is a beast. But what happens when this beast seems to be tamed, and your formulas don’t work as expected? It can throw a wrench into your productivity and leave you scratching your head in confusion. This problem is more common than you might think and can be a real roadblock for anyone relying on Excel for their day-to-day tasks.

The relevance of this topic can’t be overstated. Whether you’re a student, a business owner, or an employee in a corporate setting, Excel is a staple in many people’s workflow. Formulas are the heart of Excel, allowing users to perform complex calculations and analyze data efficiently. When formulas stop working, it can bring progress to a standstill.

Therefore, understanding the common reasons why Excel 2013 formulas might not work and how to fix them is crucial. This article is tailored for anyone who’s ever felt the frustration of a non-cooperative Excel sheet – from beginners to seasoned pros. We’ll walk through a step-by-step tutorial to troubleshoot and resolve the issue, so you can get back to being the Excel wizard you are.

How to Fix an Excel 2013 Formulas Not Working

Before we delve into the steps, it’s important to understand what following these steps will accomplish. Essentially, we are going to look at common reasons why Excel 2013 formulas might fail and how to address them. By the end of this process, your formulas should work as intended.

Step 1: Check for Manual Calculation Setting

Make sure that Excel is set to Automatic Calculation mode.

Excel has two modes of calculation – automatic and manual. If it’s set to manual, formulas won’t update automatically. To switch to automatic calculation, go to the "Formulas" tab, click on "Calculation Options," and select "Automatic."

Step 2: Look for Errors in the Formula

Inspect the formula for any potential errors or typos.

One misplaced comma or an incorrect cell reference can cause a formula to stop working. Double-check the formula syntax and ensure that all cell references are accurate.

Step 3: Verify Cell Format

Ensure that the cells referenced in the formula are formatted correctly.

Sometimes, a cell might be formatted as text instead of a number, which can lead to formula errors. Change the cell format to the appropriate type by right-clicking on the cell, selecting "Format Cells," and choosing the correct category.

Step 4: Remove any Leading Spaces

Check for and remove any leading spaces before the formula.

A leading space can make Excel treat your formula as text. Click on the cell and make sure there’s no space before the "=" sign.

Step 5: Use Correct Range References

Ensure that you’re using the correct range references for functions that require them.

For functions like SUM or AVERAGE, make sure you’re selecting the correct range of cells. If the range is off, the function won’t calculate properly.

Step 6: Update Formulas Linked to Closed Workbooks

If your formula references another workbook, make sure that the referenced workbook is open.

Formulas that reference cells in other workbooks need those workbooks to be open to function correctly. Open any necessary workbooks and refresh the formula.


Benefit Explanation
Accurate Results Ensuring your formulas work correctly is vital for getting accurate data results. This is fundamental for making informed decisions based on the data.
Increased Productivity Fixing formula issues can significantly boost your productivity by reducing time spent troubleshooting and allowing for seamless data analysis.
Enhanced Data Analysis Correct formulas allow for more complex and sophisticated data analysis, giving you the power to dive deeper into your datasets.


Drawback Explanation
Time-Consuming Troubleshooting formula issues can be time-consuming, especially if you’re dealing with a large dataset or complex formulas.
Requires Attention to Detail Fixing formulas requires a keen eye for detail. Even a small oversight can lead to incorrect results.
May Require Learning For those who are not familiar with Excel’s intricacies, fixing formulas might require learning new functions or understanding the software’s functionality better.

Additional Information

When dealing with Excel 2013 formulas not working, don’t forget the simple things. For instance, are you sure you pressed Enter after typing your formula? It might sound trivial, but sometimes the most straightforward solutions are easily overlooked. Also, if you’re using array formulas, remember these need to be entered with Ctrl+Shift+Enter, not just Enter.

Another tip is to use Excel’s inbuilt Formula Auditing tools. These tools can help trace errors, evaluate formulas, and even watch the calculation process in real-time. They are a fantastic resource for both novices and experts alike.

Lastly, always keep your Excel version updated. Patches and updates often fix known bugs that may affect how formulas work. In our increasingly data-driven world, keeping your tools sharp is not just a convenience—it’s a necessity.


  1. Ensure Excel is set to Automatic Calculation mode.
  2. Inspect the formula for errors or typos.
  3. Verify that cells are formatted correctly.
  4. Remove any leading spaces before the formula.
  5. Use correct range references for functions.
  6. Update formulas linked to closed workbooks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my Excel formula showing as text?

If your formula is showing as text, it might be due to a leading space before the "=" sign or the cell being formatted as text. Remove any spaces and change the cell format to General.

What is Manual Calculation mode?

Manual Calculation mode means Excel won’t automatically update formulas when changes are made. You have to press F9 to update the calculations manually.

How can I tell if a cell is formatted incorrectly?

Right-click on the cell and select "Format Cells." If it’s not set to the appropriate category (like ‘Number’ for numerical data), change it accordingly.

Why doesn’t my formula update when referencing a closed workbook?

Excel needs access to the data in the referenced workbook. Make sure all necessary workbooks are open to update the formulas correctly.

Can I use Formula Auditing tools to fix my formulas?

Yes, Excel’s Formula Auditing tools can help you trace errors, evaluate parts of your formula, and watch the calculation process, which can be useful in fixing your formulas.


Fixing an Excel 2013 formula not working can be a bit of a puzzle, but it’s one that definitely has a solution. By following the steps outlined, remaining vigilant for common pitfalls, and leveraging the powerful tools Excel provides, you can solve most formula issues with relative ease. Remember, a well-functioning Excel spreadsheet is like a well-oiled machine; it can do wonders for your productivity and data analysis capabilities. Keep this guide handy, stay curious, and don’t let a few formula hiccups deter you from harnessing the full power of Excel 2013.

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