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Step By Step

Step By Step

Ever find yourself asking, “Now, how did Excel calculate that”?

Well, as most of you probably know, MS Excel uses the standard order of operations (yep, just like you learned in school) to evaluate formulas.

But, even with that knowledge, it’s possible that you’re not realizing exactly the order of how things will be done.

If you catch yourself debating a set of parentheses or wondering about the order Excel will use to evaluate your formula, here’s a quick way to see precisely what’s happening, step by step.

First, you need to select the cell with the formula.

Now, we need the Tools menu, Formula Auditing submenu, Evaluate Formula choice. Or, if you have the Formula Auditing toolbar open, you can use the Evaluate Formula button.

The Formula Auditing window will open first, displaying the formula as it is in the cell.

At this point, you need to click the Evaluate button at the bottom.

For every click, you’ll see that Excel takes one (and only one) step in the formula evaluation process. You can tell which step will be next by the underline. Whatever is underlined will be next.

It first starts out by replacing cell references with their values and then it moves on to actually using the order of operations to complete the math.

When you’ve either seen enough or gotten to the final answer, click the Close button to get back to the workbook.

There you have it. Step by step formula evaluation and removing all the “math mysteries” they can pose!

~ April