Identify Errors Using Excel Formula Debugging (2 Methods)

Imagine you have created a super long formula in Excel. While you are proud of yourself, there is a minor glitch. It is returning an error or an unexpected value.

Now you have two options:

  • Either recreate it again or go through it manually one step at a time, OR
  • Use the 2 formula debugging techniques I am about to share. Keep reading!
Excel Formula Debugging Method #1 – F9 Key

Here is how this works:

  1. Go to the cell which has the formula
  2. Enter into an edit mode (press F2)
  3. Select the entire formula and press F9 – This will give you the result of the entire formula
    • You can also select a sub-part of the formula and use this same technique

For example, suppose you have the text TrumpExcel in Cell A1, and in cell A3 you have the following formula:

=IF(A1="Trumpexcel","Right","Wrong")

Excel Formula Debugging Method 1

Excel Formula Debugging Method #2 – Evaluate Formula Step by Step
  1. Suppose you have the same formula as above in cell C1
=IF(A1="Trumpexcel","Right","Wrong")
  1. Select the cell that has the formula (C1 in this case)
  2. Click on Formula Tab
  3. Click on Evaluate Formula (Keyboard Shortcut – Alt + TUF). This will open the Evaluate Formula Dialogue Box
  4. Press Evaluate One by One to sift through the steps and their results
    Excel Formula Debugging - Evaluate dialogue box
  • Karthik L says:

    Is there any addins developed to debug big formulas?..By using evaluate option i cannot do back step right?

    • Sumit Bansal says:

      Hello Karthik.. Thanks for commenting.. I usually go with the F9 key debugging method. It has the benefit as you can debug in parts and can also go back (by hitting Control + Z). I am not aware of any add-in for formula debugging.

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