This article describes the formula syntax and usage of the FORMULATEXT function (function: A prewritten formula that takes a value or values, performs an operation, and returns a value or values. Use functions to simplify and shorten formulas on a worksheet, especially those that perform lengthy or complex calculations.) in Microsoft Excel.


Returns a formula as a string.



The FORMULATEXT function syntax has the following arguments.

  • Reference    Required. A reference to a cell or range of cells.


  • The FORMULATEXT function returns what is displayed in the formula bar if you select the referenced cell.
  • The Reference argument can be to another worksheet or workbook.
  • If the Reference argument is to another workbook that is not open, FORMULATEXT returns the #N/A error value.
  • If the Reference argument is to an entire row or column, or to a range or defined name containing more than one cell, FORMULATEXT returns the value in the upper leftmost cell of the row, column, or range.
  • In the following cases, FORMULATEXT returns the #N/A error value:
    • The cell used as the Reference argument does not contain a formula.
    • The formula in the cell is longer than 8192 characters.
    • The formula can't be displayed in the worksheet; for example, due to worksheet protection.
    • An external workbook that contains the formula is not open in Excel.
  • Invalid data types used as inputs will produce a #VALUE! error value.
  • Entering a reference to the cell in which you are entering the function as the argument won't result in a circular reference warning. FORMULATEXT will successfully return the formula as text in the cell.


The workbook below shows examples of this function. Inspect them, change existing formulas, or enter your own formulas to learn how the function works.

To work more in-depth with the example data in Excel, download the embedded workbook to your computer, and then open it in Excel.

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Applies to:
Excel 2013, Excel Online