Excel Tutorial: How To Change Formula In Excel


Having a strong understanding of how to change formulas in Excel is essential for anyone working with spreadsheets. Whether you need to update a calculation, fix an error, or customize a formula for a specific use, knowing how to make these changes is key to maximizing the potential of your data. In this tutorial, we will provide a brief overview of the steps to change a formula in Excel, allowing you to confidently manipulate your data to suit your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding how to change formulas in Excel is crucial for working with spreadsheets efficiently.
  • Accuracy and efficiency are important factors to consider when working with formulas in Excel.
  • The steps to change a formula in Excel include identifying the cell, accessing the formula bar, making edits, and applying the changes.
  • Absolute and relative references in formulas have different uses and it's important to know when to use each type.
  • Common mistakes to avoid when changing formulas include forgetting to update cell references, overwriting existing formulas, and not verifying the accuracy of the new formula.

Understanding formulas in Excel

In Excel, a formula is an expression that calculates the value of a cell. It can perform mathematical operations, manipulate text, and more. Formulas in Excel always begin with an equal sign (=) and can contain references to other cells, constants, and functions.

Explanation of what a formula is in Excel

A formula in Excel is a way to perform calculations using the data in your spreadsheet. It allows you to automate the process of calculating values based on the content of your cells.

Importance of accuracy and efficiency in formulas

Accuracy and efficiency are crucial when it comes to using formulas in Excel. An accurate formula ensures that the calculated results are correct, while an efficient formula helps in minimizing the time and effort required to perform calculations.

Steps to change a formula in Excel

Changing a formula in Excel is a simple process that can be done in just a few steps. Follow the guide below to learn how to make edits to your formulas.

A. Identifying the cell with the formula to be changed

Before making any changes to a formula in Excel, it's important to identify the cell containing the formula that needs to be edited. Take note of the cell reference for future reference.

B. Selecting the cell and accessing the formula bar

Once you have located the cell with the formula, click on the cell to select it. The formula bar, located at the top of the Excel window, will display the formula for the selected cell. This is where you will make the necessary changes to the formula.

C. Making the necessary edits to the formula

With the formula bar open and the cell selected, you can now make the necessary edits to the formula. You can add, remove, or modify any elements within the formula to achieve the desired result.

D. Pressing Enter to apply the changes

After making the edits to the formula, press the Enter key on your keyboard to apply the changes. The cell will now display the updated result based on the modified formula.

Using absolute and relative references in formulas

When working with formulas in Excel, it is important to understand the difference between absolute and relative references and know when to use each type in your formulas. This knowledge will allow you to create more dynamic and flexible spreadsheets.

A. Explanation of absolute and relative references

Relative references are the default type of reference in Excel formulas. When you copy a formula containing relative references to a new location, the reference will adjust based on its new position. On the other hand, absolute references do not change when copied to a new location. They are indicated by the use of a dollar sign ($) before the column and/or row reference.

B. When to use each type of reference in formulas

  • Use relative references when the same formula needs to be applied to multiple rows or columns, and you want the references to adjust accordingly.
  • Use absolute references when you want a reference to remain constant, regardless of where the formula is copied.
  • Use mixed references (a combination of absolute and relative references) when you want either the column or row reference to remain constant, but not both.

C. How to adjust references when changing formulas

When changing formulas, it is important to understand how references will adjust based on the type used. When copying a formula with relative references, the references will adjust to the new location. However, when copying a formula with absolute references, the references will remain constant. You can manually adjust references by adding or removing dollar signs as needed.

Common mistakes to avoid when changing formulas

When working with Excel formulas, it's important to be mindful of potential mistakes that can occur when changing them. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

A. Forgetting to update cell references
  • Not adjusting cell references: One of the most common mistakes when changing formulas is forgetting to update cell references. If you copy and paste a formula to a new location, make sure to update any cell references to reflect the new location.
  • Using absolute references incorrectly: When changing formulas, be cautious of using absolute references ($A$1) instead of relative references (A1) when they are not needed. This can cause the formula to return incorrect results.

B. Overwriting existing formulas
  • Accidentally overwriting formulas: When making changes to a worksheet, it's easy to accidentally overwrite existing formulas. Always double-check before making any changes to ensure that you're not inadvertently removing essential formulas.
  • Not preserving original formulas: It's important to preserve the original formulas by copying and pasting them into a different location before making changes. This way, you can always revert to the original formula if needed.

C. Not verifying the accuracy of the new formula
  • Not testing the new formula: After making changes to a formula, it's crucial to verify the accuracy of the new formula. Test it with different inputs to ensure that it returns the expected results.
  • Not considering potential errors: When changing formulas, consider potential errors that may arise. Check for common errors such as division by zero, circular references, or incorrect data types.

By being mindful of these common mistakes, you can effectively change formulas in Excel without encountering errors or inaccuracies.

Tips for efficiently changing formulas

When working with Excel, it's important to know how to efficiently change formulas to save time and improve accuracy. Here are some tips for making formula changes seamlessly.

  • Using keyboard shortcuts
  • Keyboard shortcuts can be a huge time-saver when it comes to making changes to formulas in Excel. Instead of manually clicking and editing each cell, try using shortcuts like Ctrl + X to cut, Ctrl + V to paste, or F2 to edit a cell. These shortcuts can help you quickly navigate and modify formulas without interrupting your workflow.

  • Utilizing the Fill Handle for quick adjustments
  • The Fill Handle in Excel is a powerful tool for making quick adjustments to formulas. You can use it to copy and paste a formula across multiple cells, or to extend a formula's range by dragging the handle. This can save you time and effort when you need to apply a formula to a large dataset or make incremental adjustments.

  • Using named ranges for easier formula editing
  • Named ranges can make formula editing much easier and more intuitive. Instead of referencing individual cell addresses in a formula, you can use a named range to refer to a specific set of cells. This not only makes your formulas more readable, but also makes it easier to update or change the range of cells being referenced in the formula.


Being able to change formulas in Excel is crucial for accuracy and efficiency in data analysis and reporting. It allows for quick adjustments and updates without having to start from scratch. As with any skill, practice is key to mastering the art of formula manipulation in Excel. By dedicating time to learning and experimenting with different formulas, you can greatly improve your productivity and streamline your workflow.

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