Formula bar in Excel: how to show, hide, expand or collapse

In this short tutorial, you will learn what the Excel formula bar is, how to restore a missing formula bar in different versions of Excel, and how to expand the formula bar so that a long formula can fit into it entirely.

On this blog, we have lots of tutorials discussing various aspects of Excel functions and formulas. But if you are a novice in Microsoft Excel, you might want to learn the basics first, and one of the essentials is the Formula Bar.

What is a formula bar in Excel?

Excel formula bar is a special toolbar at the top of the Excel worksheet window, labeled with function symbol (fx). You can use it to enter a new formula or copy an existing one.

The formula bar comes very handy when you are dealing with a pretty long formula and you want to view it entirely without overlaying the contents of the neighbor cells.

The formula bar gets activated as soon as you type an equal sign in any cell or click anywhere within the bar.
Excel formula bar

Excel formula bar missing - how to show and hide formula bar in Excel

Formula bar is very helpful for reviewing and editing formulas in your worksheets. If the formula bar is missing in your Excel, most likely it's because you've accidentally turned off the Formula Bar option on the ribbon. To recover a lost formula bar, perform the following steps.

Show formula bar in Excel 2016, Excel 2013 and Excel 2010

In the modern versions of Excel, you can unhide formula bar by going to the View tab > Show group and selecting the Formula Bar option.
To show the formula bar in Excel, select the Formula Bar option on the ribbon.

Show formula bar in Excel 2007

In Excel 2007, the Formula Bar option resides on the View tab > Show/Hide group.

Show formula bar in Excel 2003 and XP

In insert the formula bar in the old Excel versions, go to Tools > Options, then switch to the View tab, and select the Formula Bar checkbox under the Show category.

Unhide formula bar via Excel Options

An alternative way to restore a lost formula bar in Excel is as follows:

  • Click File (or the Office button in earlier Excel versions).
  • Go to Options.
  • Click Advanced in the left pane.
  • Scroll down to the Display section and select the Show Formula bar option.

Unhide formula bar using Excel Options

How to hide formula bar in Excel

To maximize workspace in your worksheet, we may want to hide the Excel formula bar. And you can do this by unchecking the Formula bar option in the Excel Options dialog, as demonstrated above, or on the ribbon (View tab > Show group):
Hiding the formula bar in Excel

How to expand Excel formula bar

If you are creating an advanced formula that is too long to fit into the default formula bar, you can expand the bar in the following way:

  • Hover the mouse near the bottom of the formula bar until you see the up-and-down white arrow.
  • Click that arrow and drag down until the bar gets big enough to accommodate the entire formula.

Expanding the formula bar to accommodate long formulas

Formula bar shortcut

Another way to expand the formula bar in Excel is by using the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + U. To restore the default formula bar size, press this shortcut again.

This is how you work with formula bar in Excel. In the next article, we are going to talk about more serious things such as evaluating and debugging Excel formulas. I thank you for reading and hope to see you on our blog next week!

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15 Responses to "Formula bar in Excel: how to show, hide, expand or collapse"

  1. Ismael says:

    Want to build if formula

    =IF(ISNUMBER(SEARCH("1001",AH2)), "Clarification", "Yes")

    its working fine but want to add some more criteria to it.

    Eg: 1001,2001,3001, "Clarification"

    And 1002,2002,3002, "Information"
    and 1003,2003,3003, "error"

    need help

  2. Gary Tower says:

    I like Excel 2016 very much. However I am having a problem with the formula bar because the font is boxy and almost too small to read. Is there a way to modify the font in the formula bar? Thank you very much for your assistance.
    Gary Tower

    • Hi Gary,

      I don't know a way to change just the font size in the formula bar. However, you can change the general font of the workbook in this way:

      File > Options > General, the section 'When creating new workbooks' > Font size.

      For the changes to take effect, restart Excel.

      The next time you open Excel, everything will be big. However, if you open an existing Excel workbook that was created and saved in normal size, only the font of the formula bar will change.

  3. sneha says:

    Hi i want to knw how to get the Workspace in ms excel if somehow that window is lost by chance and only formula bar is appearing. Even if i give normal view also that window for Workspace is not regained. Once after a new blank workbook is created it will come but either the row numbers will disappear or the window will open with some grid lines.

  4. Anon says:

    Thank You - I didn't realize it was that simple!

  5. David says:

    I cannot use the NORMAL controls of Excel..
    It has something to do with Formula Bar and is INFURIATING because a simple spreadsheet CANNOT be writen!!

    Please advise me.
    I have used Excel for 30 YEARS on and Off!!

  6. Maco says:

    Hi all,

    I would like to ask you for help with displaying text in formula bar in excel2013.
    I use a filter ran by macros. It should filter hugh amount of data and it works, but I need to display in formula bar in final (filtered sheet) original text from source sheet instead of link "=source!F22". I tried to use F9 and it shows me text as I wanted, but when I made a change in source sheet, that change has not been transfered in to the filtered sheet, because F9 replace permanently link by text.

    Do you have any ideas?
    Thank you in advance

  7. Julie says:

    thank you. I searched for ages to find your post.

  8. Dapacha says:

    I'm using MS Excel 2016 MSO. In the formula bar in some but not all of my excel files, the box that shows cell contents (and allows editing thereof) has disappeared. The cell address box remains. How do I get the missing box to reappear on the formula bar? How did I make it disappear?


  9. Kevin says:

    Is there any way to still see the formulas in the formula bar after an excel document has been electronically signed (and therefore locked) just for read-only purposes?

    Thanks so much!

  10. Mary says:

    Totally agree with Dapacha - the Excel formula bar keeps disappearing after I've been working for 30 minutes or so. The only way to restore it has to been completely reboot.

  11. Mary says:

    Formula bar checked on, but still not showing. Disappears after a few minutes of work. Excel 2013. Tried the Control-Shift-U, it has an impact - the amount of white space increases or decreases - but there's no formula bar. Almost if it's shifted to right well beyond the screen.

  12. Morris Edwards says:

    Thank you for great post. It is very informative to gain knowledge.

  13. John says:

    Great article, but my Excel has a further problem. By whatever means I enable the Formula Bar, it never sticks. I save and close the file after enabling the Formula Bar, but upon reopening it's always turned off again. Any ideas?


  14. Chris H says:

    Here is another issue I had my formula bar appeared to just be a white box. Ended up the right most box had somehow become extended all the way to the right and off the screen. To recover it you have to down size your excel and stretch it off the screen and slide the excel window to the right until you find the edge. Slowly select and pull the edge to the left making the excel window smaller and smaller keep pulling it over until you have it all on the same page. I found where several folks had this issue but no fixes and plenty of people did not know what the person complaining was talking about. I felt I needed to document that somewhere before I carried on as it lost me several hours of productivity today. Chris Hall, PMP

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