We’ve all written a formula in Excel and gotten an unexpected result. Maybe it was an error message or maybe it just wasn’t the number you were expecting. One approach to correcting the problem would be to memorize (or at least print out to keep by your monitor) Excel’s order of operations in formulas and then carefully analyze your formula to be sure everything is in the correct order. Or you could just click on the cell that contains your formula and then click the Evaluate Formula button to let Excel walk you through every step of your formula.
In Excel 2007 you can find the Evaluate Formula button by clicking on Formulas on the ribbon. The Evaluate Formula button is in the Formula Auditing section. In Excel 2003 or older, open the Tools menu, choose Formula Auditing, and then Evaluate Formula.
To use it, click on a cell with a formula in it. Then click on the Evaluate Formula button. A window will open displaying your formula. Part of the formula will be underlined. That underlining shows which part of the formula is being evaluated in this step. Click the Evaluate button at the bottom of the window and the underlined portion will change to the result for that step. In other words, if the underlined portion refers to cell A3, it would change from showing “A3″ to showing whatever is in A3. Or if the underlined portion was “100 / 5″ it would change to “20″. Each time you click the Evaluate button it will advance one more step through your formula. Since you can see the result of each step along the way, it is much easier to locate and correct mistakes in your formula.