How to Evaluate Formula in Excel?
When you try to solve complex problems in excel we might fail most of the time. When we decided to search on the internet we may get a solution which is readymade but it is very hard to understand due to the nested formulas they have used. The good thing is we got the solution that we wanted but not understanding the formula is not a good sign because in the future if we want to alter or change the references of formula we must know how the formula is working. So, in such situations it is important to understand the formula, so to understand the formula we can use the “Evaluate Formula” tool in excel.
In this article, we will take you through the process of evaluation of an excel formula using two methods – 1) Using F9 Key & 2) Using “Evaluate” Tool
#1 – Evaluate Excel Formula Using F9 Key
As I told to understand big formulas we need to first understand parts of the formula step by step and this is called an evaluation of the formula or debugging.
For an example look at the below formula for this example.
If you don’t understand anything from the formula we can evaluate part by part by pressing the F9 key.
The F9 key is used to quickly evaluate and debug the formula to understand and efficiently work with excel. Using this F9 key we can evaluate only the part of the formula by replacing the actual formula with the result of the formula.
In the above example, we have applied a logical test i.e. A2>40. Based on the logical test we are analyzing the price status. If the price is >40 then we need the result as “Costly” or else we need the result as “Cheap”. So, IF condition tests the logical test and returns “Costly” if the logical test is TRUE or if the logical test is FALSE it will return “Cheap”.
In B2 cell we have got the result as “Cheap”, to understand how we got this result lets evaluate the logical part of the formula.
In the formula, the bar selects only the logical test part of the formula.
Once the logical test part is selected press the F9 key and see what the result is.
It says “FALSE”, because in A2 cell price value is not >40 so the logical test is FALSE. Since the logical test is FALSE we got the result as “Cheap”.
Now go to cell B4 where we have the result of “Cheap”. In that cell select the logical test part and press the F9 key.
Now press the F9 key to see the result of the logical test.
The logical test result is TRUE. Since we have applied the result as “Costly” for the TRUE part we got the same result in B4 cell because the price is A4 cell is >40.
But when it comes to cell B6 we got the result as Cheap even though the price is 40, this is because we have applied the logical test as >40 not >=40.
Now take a look at one more example of evaluating the formula. Take a look at the below data.
In the above table, we need to check whether Jan total is equal to Feb total. If both the totals are equal we should get the result as “Same” or else “Not Equal”.
I have applied the formula as below.
I have applied two SUM function to get the total Jan & Feb respectively. Select both the SUM functions equation in the formula.
Press the F9 key and see what the result is.
We got the result as FALSE because Jan total is equal to Feb total. How do you know Jan total is not equal to Feb total???
To check only Jan total select only first SUM function and press the F9 key.
So, Jan total is 2062, similarly, evaluate for Feb total.
Feb total is 1909, so the logical test is FALSE and the result is “Not Same”.
To see what are the values SUM function taking into consideration selecting only the cell range part in the SUM function.
Now press the F9 key we should see all the values from the cells A2 to A6.
Evaluate Formula by Using EVALUATE Excel FORMULA Feature
One more way of evaluating the formula is by using the built-in excel feature excel “Evaluate Formula” option. This option is available with excel under the FORMULA tab.
To use this feature select the formula cell that we want to evaluate and click on this feature.
As soon as we click on this button we get the below window.
Now click on “Evaluate” it will evaluate the underlined part.
Click on Evaluate to evaluate the second SUM function.
Now both the equations are selected simultaneously, click on Evaluate it will show whether the logical test is TRUE or FALSE.
Now the entire formula is selected, so click on Evaluate one last time it will show the final result.
So, the result is “Not Same” because Jan total is not equal to Feb total.
Things to Remember
We need to be wary of the F9 key because when we are evaluating the formula we should just evaluate and press Esc key otherwise it will replace with calculated results. For example in the above example, we have evaluated all the cell values.
Now if I press enter key we will get the formula as it is.
So, in this aspect of the F9 key, we need to be careful. Once the formula is replaced by its calculated values or cell values it is no longer a dynamic formula, so this is the one area we need to be careful while debugging the formula.
This has been a guide to Evaluate Formula in Excel. Here we discuss how to evaluate formula using 2 methods 1) F9 Key & 2) Evaluate Tool along with examples & downloadable excel template. You may also look at these useful functions in excel –