I have been facing a rather strange problem in Excel - it's not easy to explain so I have also attached a screenshot to help


When I type a formula into a cell and press 'Enter', the formula executes but the answer does not appear immediately in the cell. Instead, I have to click on some other cell, or perform some other operation for that number to show up. This does not happen when the cells included in the formula are on the screen. For example, if I were to input "=A1+A2" into A3 and press 'Enter', the answer would appear. However, if I were to input "=A1+A2" into A27 (where A1 and A2 are not visible on screen) and press 'Enter', the cell will remain blank until I double click it or perform some other operation!

This has really been driving me crazy! Does anyone have any possible explanation or solution to this? For what it's worth, I'm on Excel 2016 for Mac.

  • There are better tools to do screenshots. It happens to me. Exiting excel and restarting it usually solve it. Sometimes there are some changes in settings (e.g. by pressing wrong key combination), but if this is the case, I left other to answer – Giacomo Catenazzi Aug 4 '16 at 8:42
  • Hey, thanks for the reply. The issue is when I try to do a screenshot on my laptop, the number in the blank cell appears. Hence I was forced to take an image! I have tried restarting excel a few times, but to no avail. – NPJobs Aug 4 '16 at 8:47
  • For me also the cell A27 has a strange formatting. Now I remember: once this was due to formatting of cell. Try to force it as number (Control-1). Sometime excel go crazy with a forced text format. If it works, you can copy empty cells (just below everithing) to the affected range of cells. – Giacomo Catenazzi Aug 4 '16 at 8:57
  • Yup! When I change all the cells to 'Number' as a format, the problem goes away. Do you know how to make 'Number' as the default format for cells as compared to 'General'? – NPJobs Aug 4 '16 at 9:11
  • No, I don't know. Usually General is good. Only few times excel messes up things (especially if files is saved using several different versions of excel). I would recommend you to create a new file, copy all content of actual file, pasting without formatting, and then applying manually formatting. I don't have a real solution, nor I understand what it is the real problem. – Giacomo Catenazzi Aug 4 '16 at 9:27

I think there is a problem with cell formatting. It happens seldom (and in my experience, when working on the same file with different microsoft excel versions, or automatically generated by other microsoft tools (e.g. microsoft access)).

To solve the problem, you need to select the cells that doesn't display numbers, and select the cell format as "General" or "Numbers". Note: in general microsoft excel does a good job on interpreting the correct format of a cell, just few time it become stubborn.

See also the answer of Hannu (not the first one, unfortunatelly) in Cells show formula, not formula result.

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