Fixing Excel Formulas that Refuse to Display Accurately

Troubleshooting Common Excel Display Issues: How to Fix Excel Formulas

Is your Excel spreadsheet acting up and giving you calculation errors? Don’t worry; we’ll show you how to troubleshoot common issues and ensure your formulas are error-free and visually appealing.


Microsoft Excel is an incredibly powerful tool that enables users to create spreadsheets and analyze large quantities of data. However, at times, navigating the program can be complex, and when problems arise in your spreadsheet, identifying the cause and finding a solution can be challenging. From incorrect data entry to formula errors and formatting issues, this article will delve into common Excel display problems and provide expert tips to resolve them.

Issue Type1:

Improper or Incorrect Formula References:

When working with formulas, you may encounter the #REF! error, indicating that the calculation results aren’t generated.

This error usually occurs due to the relocation or deletion of cells, rows, or columns, resulting in broken cell references. To rectify this, you can use the Undo and Redo functions to track the change that triggered the error. For long-standing errors, you need to modify the formula and ensure accurate cell references. Another scenario is when lookup functions request cells outside the defined search range, leading to a #REF! error. Always confirm that the data you’re searching for falls within the specified range to prevent this issue.

Issue Type 2:

Incorrect Function or Range Names

A prevalent problem in Excel involves mistyping formulas or functions, causing the #NAME? error.

This error occurs when Excel cannot recognize parts of the formula, often due to incorrect function names or syntax separators. To avoid this error, ensure accurate spelling, punctuation, and proper placement of syntax elements. Utilizing the Insert Function feature in the Formulas tab can be beneficial, guiding you through the process of defining arguments and ranges effortlessly.

Issue Type 3:

Styles and Formatting Not Transferred

When working with Excel spreadsheets, it’s important to remember that when data is transferred to new cells using formulas or references, any stylistic formatting applied to the original cells is not carried over. Thus, you must manually reapply the desired formatting to the output cells to maintain uniformity and visual appeal.

Issue Type 4:

Array or Overflow Errors

Certain formulas, especially array formulas, require sufficient space to operate effectively in Excel. When a formula lacks the necessary room due to data interruptions or reaching the spreadsheet’s edge, a #SPILL! error occurs.

If confronted with this error, start by removing any visible obstructions that impede the formula. Additionally, check for merged cells, incorrect formula construction, or formulas exceeding system memory limits – all potential causes for the #SPILL! error.

Issue Type 5:


Surprisingly, one of the most overlooked reasons for data display issues in Excel is simple typographical errors within formulas. Carefully review your formulas for typos and ensure all required arguments are entered correctly. Particularly when dealing with multiple criteria or complex statements, verify the correct placement and closure of separators like parentheses, commas, and quotation marks. Utilize the formula bar, the Formula Wizard, or Microsoft’s Excel function help guides to ensure accurate syntax and avoid errors.

Working with Excel can become frustrating when issues relating to functions, formulas, and calculations arise. However, by employing simple troubleshooting steps, you can quickly resolve or even prevent problems. Familiarize yourself with these troubleshooting techniques to enhance productivity and effortlessly overcome Excel display difficulties.


1. How can I fix the #REF! error in Excel?
If you encounter a #REF! error immediately after relocating or modifying cells, you can use the Undo and Redo functions to track the change that caused the error. For persistent errors, modify the formula and correct the cell references. Check that lookup functions do not request cells outside the specified search range.

2. What causes the #NAME? error in Excel?
The #NAME? error is usually triggered by incorrect function or range names or syntactical errors. Ensure that you have accurately spelled the function name and correctly placed punctuation in the formula. Utilize the Insert Function feature for guidance if errors are frequent.

3. Why does formatting not carry over when using formulas or references?
When transferring data to new cells using formulas or references, only the data itself moves, not any applied formatting. You must reapply the desired formatting to maintain a consistent and visually appealing appearance.

4. How can I solve the #SPILL! error in Excel?
To address a #SPILL! error, first, remove any visible obstructions that may be hindering the formula. Check for merged cells, incorrect formula construction, or formulas that exceed memory limits. Ensure that there is enough space for the formula to operate effectively.

5. How can I avoid typos causing errors in Excel formulas?
To prevent typographical errors, carefully review your formulas for accuracy, paying special attention to required arguments. Double-check the proper placement and closure of separators such as parentheses, commas, and quotation marks. Utilize Excel’s formula bar, the Formula Wizard, or Microsoft’s Excel function help guides for guidance and verification.

6. Are there any tools or features in Excel that can assist in troubleshooting?
Yes, Excel provides various tools and features to aid in troubleshooting. The Insert Function feature in the Formulas tab offers a Formula Wizard window for each function, guiding users through the process of defining arguments and ranges accurately. Additionally, Excel’s formula bar and Microsoft’s Excel function help guides can provide valuable assistance.

7. How can I maintain a high level of productivity when encountering Excel display issues?
By familiarizing yourself with common troubleshooting techniques and consistently applying them, you can quickly identify and resolve Excel display problems. Learning to address issues promptly and accurately will significantly enhance your productivity and workflow in Excel.

8. What are some best practices to prevent Excel display issues?
To prevent Excel display problems, practice accurate data entry, verify formulas and cell references, and employ consistent formatting conventions. Regularly review and double-check your work for errors, ensuring there are no typographical mistakes or inaccurate function names within formulas.

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