# How to Keep a Cell Blank with Formula in Excel?

Have you ever needed to **keep a cell blank in Microsoft Excel, even when a formula would normally display a result in that cell?** There are a few different ways to do this using formulas and functions in Excel. In this article, we’ll cover several methods for **keeping a cell blank with a formula**, including using the IF function, ISBLANK function, and more.

## Why Keep a Cell Blank with a Formula?

There are a few reasons why you might want to **force a cell to remain blank in Excel using a formula:**

- To avoid displaying a zero, error message, or other unwanted value when a formula result is empty
- To hide interim calculation results or suppress the display of values in certain situations
- To create a cleaner, easier-to-read spreadsheet by strategically leaving some cells empty
- To conditionally hide data based on user inputs or other cell values
- To make printouts or exported versions of your spreadsheet more user-friendly and less cluttered

**Keeping a cell blank with a formula gives you more control over what is displayed in your Excel worksheet**, allowing you to tailor it to your needs. It’s a handy trick to know for improving the usability and appearance of your spreadsheets.

## Method 1: Using the IF Function

One of the most straightforward ways to **keep a cell blank based on a formula** is to use the IF function. The IF function allows you to test a condition and return one value if the condition is true, and a different value if it’s false.

Here’s the basic syntax:

=IF(logical_test, value_if_true, value_if_false)

To **force a cell to stay blank with a formula using IF**:

- Select the cell where you want to enter the formula
- Type =IF(
- Enter the logical test that determines if the cell should be blank. For example, you could test if another cell is empty using a formula like A1=””
- After the logical test, type ,””, to return a blank (empty string) if the test is true
- Finally, enter a value or formula to display if the logical test is false, followed by a closing parenthesis.

Here’s an example formula that will **keep a cell blank if A1 is empty, otherwise display the value from A1**:

=IF(A1=””,””,A1)

You can replace the final A1 in this formula with any other value, reference, or formula to display when the cell isn’t blank. This gives you a lot of flexibility in controlling when the cell stays empty and what shows up when it’s not.

For instance, you could use a more complex logical test, like:

=IF(OR(A1=””,B1<0),””,A1*B1)

This would **keep the cell blank if either A1 is empty or B1 is negative**, otherwise it would display the product of A1 and B1.

## Method 2: Using the ISBLANK Function

The ISBLANK function is another helpful tool for **checking if a cell is empty and returning a blank** if so. ISBLANK returns TRUE if the referenced cell is empty, and FALSE if not.

To keep a cell blank with a formula using ISBLANK:

- Select the cell for your formula
- Type =IF(ISBLANK(
- Enter a reference to the cell you want to check, like A1
- Type ),””
- Add a comma, then the value to return if the cell isn’t blank
- Type a closing parenthesis

For example:

=IF(ISBLANK(A1),””,A1)

This will **keep the cell blank if A1 is empty, and display A1’s value if not.** You can replace the final A1 with any value or formula to display when not blank.

Using ISBLANK is a straightforward way to **check for empty cells and selectively display blanks** based on that. It’s especially useful when you want to suppress display of zeroes or other values that would appear when a cell is empty.

For example, suppose you have a formula that calculates an average like this:

=AVERAGE(A1:A10)

If some of the cells in A1:A10 are blank, they’ll be ignored and the average will be calculated using the remaining values. However, if ALL the cells are empty, the formula will return a zero.

To **hide this zero when all cells are blank**, you could wrap the formula with ISBLANK like so:

=IF(ISBLANK(AVERAGE(A1:A10)),””,AVERAGE(A1:A10))

Now the cell will display a **blank whenever the average formula evaluates to zero** due to all empty inputs.

## Method 3: Embedding Blank Formulas

Another option is to directly embed a blank return “” in another formula using IF. This is useful for **suppressing zero or error values**.

For example, say you have a formula like this in cell A2:

=(A1+1)/10

If A1 is blank, A2 would display a #DIV/0! error. To avoid this and **force A2 to be blank if A1 is empty**, use:

=IF(A1=””,””,(A1+1)/10)

No errors, just a **blank cell when the formula has no valid input**. This can neaten up your spreadsheet and avoid distracting error messages.

You can do the same thing to **hide zero values**:

=IF((A1+1)/10=0,””,(A1+1)/10)

Now if the formula results in zero, a blank will display instead.

Embedding IF statements within your formulas like this gives you pinpoint control over **when individual cells display blanks**, without having to modify the cell formatting or create additional helper columns.

## Method 4: Using IFERROR

The IFERROR function is helpful for **trapping and hiding Excel formula errors** and displaying a blank instead. It’s a bit like a more specialized version of the IF function.

IFERROR syntax:

=IFERROR(value, value_if_error)

To keep a cell blank if a formula results in an error:

- In the cell, type =IFERROR(
- Enter your formula that may return an error
- Type ,””
- Close the parentheses

Example:

=IFERROR((A1+1)/10,””)

Now if the formula causes an error, the cell will **display a blank instead of an ugly error message**. This is cleaner and more user-friendly than letting errors show.

You can also combine IFERROR with other functions for even more control. For instance:

=IFERROR(IF((A1+1)/10=0,””,(A1+1)/10),””)

This will **display a blank if the formula returns either zero or an error**.

IFERROR is a quick and easy way to **hide errors and keep your spreadsheet tidy**, without a lot of extra functions or formatting.

## Blank vs Empty String

It’s important to note that a **blank cell is not the same as an empty string** in Excel. A truly blank cell has no value, while an empty string “” is still a value, just an empty text string.

In most cases, using “” will give you the blank appearance you want. However, a cell containing “” may behave differently than a truly empty cell in some situations, like with certain formulas or reference types.

For example, the COUNTBLANK function will count truly empty cells, but not cells containing an empty string “”. And if you reference a blank cell in another formula, it will return a zero value, while referencing an empty string “” will return an empty string.

So while both will look blank, it’s good to be aware of the **distinction between true blanks and empty strings**, and use them appropriately in your formulas.

## Hiding Blanks in Formulas

Sometimes you may want to **completely hide a formula**, even from the formula bar, while still keeping the cell visibly blank. You can do this by using a custom number format.

Formulas entered directly in a cell will still be visible in the formula bar when the cell displays as blank. To completely **hide a formula from view**:

- Select the cell with the formula
- Press Ctrl+1 to open the Format Cells dialog box
- On the Number tab, select Custom
- In the Type field, enter ;;;
- Click OK

The cell will now **display as genuinely blank** while preserving your formula. The formula will still calculate as normal, but will be hidden from view.

This can be useful for **keeping complex spreadsheets looking clean and uncluttered**, or for hiding intermediate calculations that you don’t want visible to end users. Just be careful not to accidentally overwrite or delete cells with hidden formulas, since you won’t see them in the formula bar!

## Blank Cells and Data Validation

**Data validation** is a powerful Excel feature that lets you restrict what can be entered in a cell. You can use data validation to create drop-down lists, limit inputs to certain number or date ranges, provide input messages and error alerts, and more.

Data validation can also be used in conjunction with blanking cells. For example, you might want a cell to be **blank by default until a user makes a selection** from a drop-down list.

To set this up:

- Select the cell where you want the drop-down list
- Go to the Data tab and click Data Validation
- In the Allow field, choose List
- Click in the Source field and then select the range of cells containing your list options. Press Enter.
- The cell will now show a drop-down arrow. By default, it will display the first item in the list.
- To make the cell blank initially, go to the Input Message tab in the Data Validation dialog.
- Check the “Show input message when cell is selected” box.
- In the Input Message field, type a space character and then click OK.

Now the cell will **display a blank until the user selects a value** from the drop-down. The space character in the input message forces Excel to display a blank instead of the first list item.

You can use a similar technique for cells where you want users to input data. Set up your data validation, but leave the cell blank. The data validation rules will still apply, but the cell will **remain empty until the user enters something**.

## Blanks and Conditional Formatting

**Conditional formatting** is another Excel feature that gives you a ton of control over how your spreadsheets look and behave. With conditional formatting, you can automatically apply different colors, fonts, borders, or other visual effects to cells based on their values or conditions you specify.

For example, you might use conditional formatting to **highlight cells above or below a certain threshold**, or to color-code categories in your data.

You can also use conditional formatting to **change the appearance of blank cells**. One common use is to apply a subtle shading or border to empty cells to visually distinguish them from cells with data.

To conditionally format blank cells:

- Select the range of cells you want to format
- On the Home tab, click Conditional Formatting
- Choose New Rule
- In the Select a Rule Type list, pick “Format only cells that contain”
- Under Edit the Rule Description, set the dropdown menus to “Cell Value” and “equal to”
- Type =”” in the text box (two double quotes with nothing between them)
- Click the Format button and set up the formatting you want for blank cells, then click OK.

Now your **blank cells will automatically pick up the formatting** you specified, making them easy to spot at a glance.

You can use the same general steps to **conditionally format cells that aren’t blank** too. Just change the rule description to something like “Cell Value” “not equal to” “”.

Combining conditional formatting with blanks is a great way to draw attention to missing data, or to create visual separation between filled and unfilled cells in a spreadsheet.

## Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are several ways to **keep a cell blank with a formula in Excel** depending on your needs. Whether using IF, ISBLANK, embedded blanks, IFERROR, or other functions, you can easily suppress cell contents and **tailor your spreadsheet’s appearance**.

The methods covered here will let you:

- Keep cells blank based on conditions
- Avoid displaying errors or unwanted values
- Hide formulas for a cleaner look
- Create more user-friendly, readable spreadsheets
- Use blank cells strategically for data validation and conditional formatting

**Try out these techniques in your own Excel projects to start enjoying more control over how your data displays!** With a little formula magic and some creative formatting, you’ll be able to fine-tune your spreadsheets to perfection.

## FAQs

### What is the easiest way to keep a cell blank with a formula in Excel?

### How can I use the ISBLANK function to keep a cell blank?

### Can I hide formula errors and display a blank cell instead?

### Is there a way to completely hide a formula while keeping the cell blank?

### How can I conditionally format blank cells in Excel?

Vaishvi Desai is the founder of Excelsamurai and a passionate Excel enthusiast with years of experience in data analysis and spreadsheet management. With a mission to help others harness the power of Excel, Vaishvi shares her expertise through concise, easy-to-follow tutorials on shortcuts, formulas, Pivot Tables, and VBA.