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Excel FORMULATEXT function

Author: Sun Last Modified: 2019-06-21

doc formulatext function 1


Syntax and Arguments

Usage and Examples


The FORMULATEXT function is used to display or return a formula as a text string from a given reference.

Syntax and Arguments

Formula syntax



  • Reference: Required, a cell or a range of cells. If the reference is a range of cell, it will return the text string of formula applied in the first cell of this range.

Return Value

The FORMULATEXT function returns a formula as text string.

About Errors

The result is #N/A error value if:
1) The reference cell does not contain a formula;
2) The formula in the referenced cell is longer than 8192 characters;
3) Worksheet is protected from displaying formula;
4) The external workbook which contains formula is closed.

The result is #VALUE! error value if:
1) Some invalid character typed in function.

Usage and Examples

Here I take some simple examples to explain how to use the FORMULATEXT function in Excel.

Ex1: Basic use-display cell’s formula



A1 contains the formula =TODAY() and returns today’ s date,

B2 contains the formula =FORMULATEXT(A2) and returns the text string what displays in the formula bar from cell A2

Result: Display the formula applied in Cell A2 as a text string
doc formulatext function 2

Ex2: Count length of formula




LEN: count characters of a cell

LEN((FORMULATEXT(reference))): count the number of characters of formula from reference.

Result: Count the length of formula In Cell A3
doc formulatext function 3

Ex3: Display formula of another cell




INDIRECT(B5): display the value in Cell B5. in my example, the Cell B5 contains the value “B2”.



Result: Display the formula applied in Cell B2
doc formulatext function 4

Ex4: Display formula or a message

If the reference not contain a formula, the FORMULATEXT function will returns #N/A error value as below screenshot shown. To avoide the error value appearing, you can combine the ISFORMULA function and the FORMULATEXT function to display formula or a message based on the reference.
doc formulatext function 5


=IF(ISFORMULA(A2),FORMULATEXT(A2),"not a formula")


If Cell A2 contains a formula, then execute the FORMULATEXT function; if not, display the text string “not a formula”.
doc formulatext function 6

Note:This FORMULATEXT functions is a newly added since Excel 2013

Sample File
doc sample file

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