[Fix] Excel formula not showing result

Summary: Is your Excel spreadsheet showing text of a formula you’ve entered and not its result? This blog explains the possible reasons behind such an issue. Also, it describes solutions to fix the ‘Excel formula not showing result’ error. You can try Stellar Repair for Excel software to recover engineering and shared formulas.

[Fix] Excel formula not showing result

Sometimes, when you type a formula in a cell of worksheet and press Enter, instead of showing the calculated result, it returns the formula as text. For instance, Excel cell shows:

Excel not showing formula

But you should get the result as:

excel formula working sample

Why Does Excel Show or Display the Formula Not the Result?

Following are the possible reasons that may lead to the ‘Excel showing formula not result’ issue:

  1. You accidentally enabled “Show Formulas” in Excel.
  2. The cell format in a spreadsheet is set to text.
  3. ‘Automatic calculation’ feature in Excel is set to manual.
  4. Excel thinks your formula is text (Syntax are not followed).
  5. You type numbers in a cell with unnecessary formatting.

How to Fix ‘Excel Showing Formula Not Result’ Issue?

Here are some solutions to fix the issue:

Solution 1 – Disable Show Formulas

If only formula shows in Excel not result, check if you have accidentally or intentionally enabled ‘show formula’ feature of Excel. Instead of applying calculations and then showing results, this feature displays the actual text written by you.

You can use the ‘Show Formulas’ feature to quickly view all formulas, but if you are not aware of this feature, and enabled it accidentally, it can be a headache. To disable this mode, go to ‘Formulas’ and click on ‘Show formula enabled.’ If it’s previously enabled, it will be disabled by just clicking on it.

Show formula enabled

Solution 2 – Cell Format Set to Text

Another possible reason that only formula shows in Excel not result could be that the cell format is set to text. This means that anything written in any format in that cell will be treated as regular text. If so, change the format to General or any other. To get Excel to recognize the change in the format, you may need to enter cell edit mode by clicking into the formula bar or just press F2.

enter cell edit mode by clicking into the formula bar

Solution 3 – Change Calculation Options from ‘Manual’ to ‘Automatic’

There is an “automatic calculation” feature in Excel, which tells Excel to do calculations automatically or manually. If ‘Excel formula is not showing results’, it may be because the automatic calculations feature is set to manual. This issue is not easily detected because it results in calculating formula in one cell but if you copy it to some other cell, it will retain the first calculation and will not recalculate on the base of the new location. To fix this, follow these steps:

  • In Excel, click on the ‘File’ tab on the top left corner of the screen.
  • In the window that opens, click on ‘Options’ from the left menu bar.
  • From ‘Excel Options’ dialog box, select ‘Formulas’ from the left side menu and then change the ‘Calculation options’ to ‘Automatic’ if it’s currently set as ‘Manual’.
Automatic Calculations feature
  • Click on ‘OK’. This will redirect you to your sheet.

Solution 4 – Type Formula in the Right Format

There is a proper way to tell Excel that your text is a formula. If you don’t write the formula in a particular format, Excel considers it as simple text and hence no calculations are performed according to it. For this reason, keep the following in mind when typing a formula:

  • Equal sign: Every formula in Excel should start with an equal sign (=). If you miss it, Excel will mistake your formula as regular text.
  • Space before equal sign: You are not supposed to enter any space before equal sign. Maybe a single space will be hard for us to detect, but it breaks the rule of writing formulas for Excel.
  • Formula wrapped in quotes: You need to make sure that your formula is not wrapped in quotes. People usually make this mistake of writing a formula in quotes, but in Excel, quotes are used to signify text. So your formula won’t be evaluated. But you can add quotes inside formula if required, for example: =SUMIFS(F5:F9,G5:G9,”>30″).
  • Match all parentheses in a formula: Arguments of Excel functions are entered in parenthesis. In complex cases, you may need to enter more sets of parenthesis. If those parentheses are not paired/closed properly, Excel may not be able to evaluate the entered formula.
  • Nesting limit: If you are nesting two or more Excel functions into each other, for example using nested IF loop, remember the following rules:
    • Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and 2007 versions only allow to use up to 64 nested functions.
    • Excel 2003 and lower versions only allow up to 7 nested functions.

Solution 5 – Enter Numbers without any Formatting

When you use a number in the formula, make sure you don’t enter any decimal separator or currency sign, e.g. $, etc. In an Excel formula, a comma is used to separate arguments of a function and a dollar sign makes an absolute cell reference. Most of these special characters have built-in functions so avoid using them unnecessarily.

What to Do If the Manual Solutions Don’t Work?

If you’ve tried out the manual solutions mentioned above but still unable to resolve the ‘Excel formula not showing result’ issue, you can try repairing your Excel file with the help of an automated Excel repair software, such as Stellar Repair for Excel

This reliable and competent software scans and repairs Excel files (.XLSX and .XLS). It also helps recover all the file components, like formulas, cell formatting, etc. Armed with an interactive GUI, this software is extremely easy to work with, and its advanced algorithms allow it to fend off Excel errors with ease.



This blog outlined the possible reasons that may cause ‘Excel not showing formula results’ issue. Check out these reasons and implement the manual fixes, depending on what resulted in the problem in the first place. If none of these fixes help resolve the issue, corruption in the Excel file might be preventing the formulas from showing the actual results. In that case, using Stellar Excel Repair tool might help.

  1. Robert Michhel September 27, 2019
  2. Kattey Marshal September 19, 2019
    • Eric Simson September 19, 2019
  3. David Espy August 22, 2019
    • Eric Simson September 19, 2019

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