# How to Extract Formula from a Cell in Excel: A Comprehensive Guide

Do you have formulas in your Excel spreadsheet that you need to extract? Extracting the formula from a cell in **Excel** can be very useful when you want to see how a particular value was calculated, need to reuse a formula elsewhere, or want to document your calculations. In this article, we’ll show you several methods for **how to extract formula from a cell in Excel**.

## What is a Formula in Excel?

Before we learn about extracting formulas, let’s first define what a formula is in Excel. A **formula** is an expression that performs a calculation in a cell. Formulas always begin with an equal sign (=) and can contain values, cell references, functions, and operators. When you enter a formula into a cell, Excel calculates the result and displays it in the cell.

Some examples of simple Excel formulas:

- =A1+B1 (adds the values in cells A1 and B1)
- =SUM(A1:A10) (adds the values in the range A1 to A10 using the SUM function)
- =AVERAGE(A1:A10) (calculates the average of the values from A1 to A10)

## Method 1: Using the Formula Bar

The quickest and easiest way to view and extract the formula from an Excel cell is by using the **Formula Bar**.

The Formula Bar is the text box that sits above your spreadsheet, just below the ribbon. It displays the contents of the currently selected cell – either the value (for cells without formulas) or the formula (for cells with formulas).

Here’s how to use the Formula Bar to extract a formula:

- Select the cell containing the formula you want to extract.
- Look at the Formula Bar above the spreadsheet. It will display the full formula for the selected cell, even if the cell is showing a calculated value.
- To extract the formula, simply select the formula text in the Formula Bar and copy it (Ctrl+C on Windows or Cmd+C on Mac).
- You can then paste the copied formula (Ctrl+V or Cmd+V) to another cell, into a text editor like Notepad, or wherever else you need it.

The Formula Bar method works great if you just need to quickly grab a formula from one cell. But if you want to extract formulas from multiple cells at once, keep reading for some more powerful methods.

## Method 2: Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Did you know Excel has built-in keyboard shortcuts specifically for working with formulas? These shortcuts let you quickly toggle between displaying formulas and their calculated values in your cells.

To display formulas in all cells instead of their calculated results:

- On Windows: Press
`Ctrl+`

(grave accent key, usually above the Tab key) - On Mac: Press
`Cmd+`

(grave accent key)

Pressing the same shortcut again will toggle back to displaying the calculated values.

When you use this shortcut to display formulas, you’ll see the actual formula in each cell instead of the result value. This can be really handy for getting a quick overview of all the formulas in your spreadsheet.

From here, you can navigate through your cells and copy any formulas you need. Just select the cell, copy the formula text, and paste it where you need it.

The keyboard shortcut method is great for quickly seeing all your formulas at a glance and copying individual formulas as needed. Keep in mind though that this doesn’t actually extract the formulas anywhere – it just temporarily changes how they’re displayed in the cells.

If you want to truly extract your formulas and collect them somewhere else in your spreadsheet, the next method is for you.

## Method 3: Using Go To Special

For a more powerful way to extract formulas from multiple cells at once, we can use Excel’s Go To Special feature.

Go To Special is a handy tool that lets you quickly select cells based on certain criteria – like cells containing formulas, constants, blanks, etc. We can leverage this to select just our formula cells and then extract those formulas to another location.

Here’s how to extract formulas using Go To Special:

- Select the range of cells that contains the formulas you want to extract. You can also press
`Ctrl+A`

to select the entire active worksheet. - Go to Home > Editing > Find & Select > Go To Special. Or, use the keyboard shortcut
`Ctrl+G`

then click the Special button. - In the Go To Special dialog box, select the Formulas radio button. This will select just the cells containing formulas in your selected range. Click OK.
- Now, only the cells with formulas should be selected in your sheet. Copy these cells (
`Ctrl+C`

or`Cmd+C`

). - Navigate to a blank area in your spreadsheet where you want to paste the extracted formulas.
- Use the Paste Special command to paste just the formulas without any formatting. You can use the keyboard shortcut
`Ctrl+Shift+V`

or`Cmd+Shift+V`

, or right-click and choose “Paste Special”, then select “Formulas”.

And there you have it! You should now see all your extracted formulas pasted as text values in the new location.

The beauty of this method is that it lets you extract many formulas at once from different parts of your sheet and gather them in one centralized location. This can be super useful for documenting your formulas, sharing them with others, or converting them to static values for further analysis.

One thing to keep in mind is that the extracted formulas aren’t linked to the original cells – they’re just static text at this point. If you change your original formulas, you’ll need to re-extract them to update the copies.

## Method 4: Using a VBA Macro

For the ultimate in formula extraction power, we can turn to Excel VBA macros.

VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) is the programming language built into Excel that allows you to automate tasks, add new functions, and create complex applications within your spreadsheets. With a bit of VBA code, we can extract formulas from an entire workbook in seconds.

Here’s an example VBA macro that extracts formulas from the active worksheet and pastes them into a new worksheet along with the cell addresses:

```
Sub ExtractFormulas()
Dim cell As Range
Dim formulaSheet As Worksheet
' Create a new sheet for the extracted formulas
Set formulaSheet = Sheets.Add(After:=ActiveSheet)
formulaSheet.Name = "Extracted Formulas"
' Write header row
formulaSheet.Range("A1").Value = "Cell Address"
formulaSheet.Range("B1").Value = "Formula"
' Loop through each cell in the active sheet's used range
For Each cell In ActiveSheet.UsedRange
' Check if the cell contains a formula
If cell.HasFormula Then
' Write the cell address and formula to the new sheet
formulaSheet.Range("A65536").End(xlUp).Offset(1, 0) = cell.Address
formulaSheet.Range("B65536").End(xlUp).Offset(1, 0) = cell.Formula
End If
Next cell
' Autofit columns on the formula sheet for readability
formulaSheet.Columns.AutoFit
End Sub
```

To use this macro:

- Open the Visual Basic Editor in Excel (Alt+F11).
- Insert a new module (Insert > Module).
- Paste the above ExtractFormulas macro code into the new module.
- Close the VB Editor and return to Excel.
- Make sure the worksheet you want to extract formulas from is active.
- Run the macro by going to View > Macros > View Macros, selecting ExtractFormulas, and clicking Run.

The macro will:

- Create a new worksheet called “Extracted Formulas” after the active sheet.
- Add headers in cells A1 (“Cell Address”) and B1 (“Formula”).
- Loop through every cell in the used range of the active sheet.
- If a cell contains a formula, write the cell’s address and formula to columns A and B of the “Extracted Formulas” sheet.
- Autofit the columns on the formula sheet so you can easily read the extracted formulas.

And just like that, you’ve extracted every single formula from a worksheet into a nicely formatted table, complete with the cell addresses for reference!

Of course, this is just a starting point. With some VBA knowledge, you can customize the macro to extract formulas however you need – like extracting from multiple sheets, filtering for specific formula types, outputting to a new workbook, and much more. The possibilities are endless!

## Summary

In this guide, we’ve explored four powerful methods for extracting formulas from cells in Excel:

- Using the Formula Bar to quickly view and copy individual formulas
- Toggling formula display on and off with a keyboard shortcut
- Selecting formula cells with Go To Special and extracting to a new location
- Automating formula extraction from an entire worksheet with a VBA macro

Each method has its own strengths and use cases. The Formula Bar is perfect for quick, one-off formula checks. The keyboard shortcut is handy for auditing a worksheet’s formulas at a glance. Go To Special is great for extracting and documenting formulas en masse. And a VBA macro offers the most power and flexibility for custom formula extraction.

No matter which method you choose, the ability to extract formulas is an essential skill for any Excel user. It allows you to understand, document, troubleshoot, and repurpose the logic that drives your spreadsheets.

## FAQs

### How do I quickly view the formula in a cell?

To quickly view the formula in a cell, select the cell and look at the Formula Bar above the spreadsheet. The Formula Bar displays the full formula for the selected cell, even if the cell shows the calculated value.

### Can I extract formulas from multiple cells at once?

Yes, you can extract formulas from multiple cells at once using the Go To Special feature. Select the range containing the formulas, go to Home > Editing > Find & Select > Go To Special, choose “Formulas”, and click OK. This selects all the formula cells, which you can then copy and paste to another location.

### Is there a keyboard shortcut to display formulas in cells?

Yes, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+` (grave accent key) on Windows or Cmd+` on Mac to toggle between displaying formulas and their calculated values in all cells.

### Can I automate formula extraction with a macro?

Yes, you can use a VBA macro to automate formula extraction in Excel. A macro can loop through the cells in a worksheet, check if each cell contains a formula, and if so, copy the formula (and optionally the cell address) to a new location. This is useful for extracting formulas from large worksheets or workbooks.

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.