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Office 2007 Bible by Lisa A. Bucki, Gavin Powell, Michael R. Irwin, Peter G. Aitken, Michael R. Groh, Cary N. Prague, Faithe Wempen, Herb Tyson, John Walkenbach

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Correcting Common Formula Errors

Sometimes, when you enter a formula, Excel displays a value that begins with a pound sign (#). This is a signal that the formula is returning an error value. You have to correct the formula (or correct a cell that the formula references) to get rid of the error display.

Tip

If the entire cell is filled with pound sign characters, this means that the column isn’t wide enough to display the value. You can either widen the column or change the number format of the cell.

In some cases, Excel won’t even let you enter an erroneous formula. For example, the following formula is missing the closing parenthesis:

=A1*(B1+C2

If you attempt to enter this formula, Excel informs you that you have unmatched parentheses, and it proposes a correction. Often, the proposed correction is accurate, but you can’t count on it.

Table 15-3 lists the types of error values that may appear in a cell that has a formula. Formulas may return an error value if a cell to which they refer has an error value. This is known as the ripple effect—a single error value can make its way into lots of other cells that contain formulas that depend on that one cell.

Table 15-3. Excel Error Values
Error ValueExplanation
#DIV/0!The formula is trying to divide by zero. This also occurs when the formula attempts to divide by what’s in a cell that is empty (that is, by nothing).
#NAME?The formula uses a name that Excel doesn’t recognize. This can happen if you delete a name that’s used in the formula ...

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