# How to Put Equal Sign in Excel Without Formula?

Have you ever wanted to **start a cell with an equal sign** in Microsoft Excel, but **without using a formula**? You may have noticed that whenever you type an equal sign into a cell, Excel automatically assumes you are entering a formula.

However, there is a simple trick to **entering an equal sign in Excel as plain text**. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore in detail exactly how to do it, why you might need this functionality, and the various methods available to achieve it.

## Understanding Equal Signs in Excel

Before we learn about the specifics of entering an equal sign without a formula, let’s take a moment to understand how Excel interprets the equal sign.

By default, **Excel treats any cell content starting with an equal sign as a formula**. When you press Enter after typing a formula, Excel calculates the result based on the formula’s instructions and displays that result in the cell. This is an essential feature that allows Excel to perform powerful calculations and data analysis.

However, there may be times when you **want a cell to display an equal sign as the first character without triggering a formula**. That’s where the techniques we’ll cover in this article come into play.

## Why Would You Want to Put an Equal Sign in Excel Without a Formula?

There are several scenarios where you might need to **enter an equal sign in an Excel cell without it being treated as a formula**:

**Creating lists or records**: If you’re working with data that includes values starting with an equal sign (such as product codes, ID numbers, or certain text strings), you’ll want to ensure those equal signs are preserved as literal text.**Improving visual formatting**: Sometimes you may want to display an equal sign in a cell for aesthetic or formatting purposes, such as in headers, labels, or decorative elements.**Building templates**: If you’re creating an Excel template where users will eventually replace placeholder equal signs with actual formulas, you’ll need a way to include those equal signs as plain text initially.**Preventing formula errors**: In some cases, you may want to temporarily “disable” a formula in a cell by converting it to text (including the equal sign). This can be useful for troubleshooting or preventing errors during editing.

Whatever your specific reason, **Excel provides straightforward methods to enter an equal sign as literal text** rather than the start of a formula. Let’s explore these methods in more detail.

## How to Enter an Equal Sign in Excel as Text

The primary way to **put an equal sign in an Excel cell without a formula** is to **prefix the equal sign with an apostrophe** (‘). When you start a cell’s content with an apostrophe, Excel interprets the rest of the cell contents as plain text, even if it looks like a formula.

Here are the detailed step-by-step instructions:

**Click on the cell**where you want to enter the equal sign as text. This selects the cell and allows you to input content.**Type an apostrophe**(‘) immediately followed by an equal sign (=). The apostrophe tells Excel to treat what follows as literal text.**Enter the rest of your desired cell content**after the equal sign, if any. This can be numbers, letters, symbols, or any combination thereof.**Press Enter**to confirm your cell entry. Excel will store the contents as text and display the equal sign without attempting to calculate a formula.

It’s important to note that **the apostrophe will not appear in the cell after you press Enter**. It serves as a special character that Excel interprets to format the cell contents as text, but it doesn’t display visually.

### Examples of Equal Sign Text in Excel

To illustrate the apostrophe method, here are a few practical examples of **what you can enter to display an equal sign as text**:

Input | Displays As |
---|---|

‘=hello | =hello |

‘=123-456-7890 | =123-456-7890 |

‘=https://example.com | =https://example.com |

‘=Total | =Total |

As you can see, the **cells display the equal sign and subsequent characters** exactly as entered after the apostrophe, without triggering a formula. This allows you to include equal signs in a variety of text entries as needed.

## Drawbacks of Using an Apostrophe for Equal Signs

While **prefixing an equal sign with an apostrophe** is a quick and easy way to enter it as plain text, there are a couple potential drawbacks to keep in mind:

**Editing the cell contents later**: If you modify the cell contents and accidentally remove the leading apostrophe, the equal sign will once again trigger a formula interpretation. This usually results in a #NAME? error unless you’ve entered a valid formula after the equal sign. So be cautious when editing cells containing equal sign text.**Converting to a real formula**: If you later decide to convert a cell with equal sign text into an actual formula, you’ll need to remember to delete the apostrophe prefix first. Failing to do so will prevent the formula from working correctly, as Excel will still interpret the cell contents as text.

In most cases, these drawbacks are relatively minor and easily managed. However, it’s important to be aware of them and factor them into your spreadsheet design and usage decisions.

## Alternatives to Using an Apostrophe for Equal Signs

If for some reason you prefer not to use the apostrophe method for entering equal signs as text, Excel provides a couple of alternative approaches:

### Using the TEXT Function

The **Excel TEXT function** allows you to **force a cell to display its contents as a text string**, even if those contents look like a formula. Here’s how to use the TEXT function for equal sign text:

- In the cell where you want the equal sign text,
**start by entering =TEXT(**, followed immediately by**a quotation mark**. **Type your desired cell contents (beginning with an equal sign)**between the opening and closing quotation marks.- After the closing quotation mark, type a
**comma, followed by “@” inside another set of quotation marks**, and finally**)**to complete the TEXT formula. The full formula will look like this: =TEXT(“=your text here”,”@”) **Press Enter**to confirm the formula.

The cell will display your specified equal sign and any other text you entered, without evaluating it as a typical formula. However, keep in mind that you ARE still technically using a formula (the TEXT function), which may not be ideal in all situations.

### Changing Cell Formatting to Text

A third option is to **proactively change a cell’s formatting to the Text category** before entering your equal sign and other content:

**Right-click on the target cell**and choose**Format Cells**from the context menu.- In the Format Cells dialog box, select the
**Number tab**and click on the**Text category**in the list on the left. - Click
**OK**to apply the Text formatting to the cell. - With the cell still selected,
**type your equal sign followed by any other desired text content**. **Press Enter**to confirm your input.

By pre-formatting the cell as Text, Excel will treat your entered equal sign and subsequent characters as plain text rather than a formula. The main drawback of this method is that it requires several extra steps and can be cumbersome if you need to format many cells individually.

## Choosing the Right Equal Sign Method

With **three distinct methods available for entering an equal sign in Excel without triggering a formula**, you may be wondering which approach is best for your needs. Here are some guidelines to help you choose:

Method | Best Used When |
---|---|

Apostrophe Prefix | – You need a quick and easy way to enter equal signs as text – You don’t mind the minor editing and conversion drawbacks – The cells in question won’t require frequent or complex edits |

TEXT Function | – You’re comfortable with using formulas in your spreadsheet – You value consistent formatting over speed of data entry – The cells are likely to be edited or converted to real formulas later |

Cell Text Formatting | – You need to enter many equal sign text values in adjacent cells – You want to pre-format cells for streamlined data entry by others – The cells will always contain text and won’t be converted to formulas |

Ultimately, the best method depends on your specific requirements, preferences, and the overall design of your Excel spreadsheet. Don’t be afraid to experiment with each approach to determine which one offers the right balance of efficiency and functionality for your situation.

## Summing Up Equal Signs in Excel

In conclusion, **putting an equal sign in an Excel cell without a formula** is a straightforward process once you understand the available methods. To recap, you can easily enter an equal sign as text by following these steps:

**Click on the cell**where you want the equal sign to appear.**Type an apostrophe**(‘) immediately followed by**your equal sign and any other desired text content**.**Press Enter**to confirm your cell entry.

Alternatively, you can use the **TEXT function within a formula** or **change the cell formatting to Text** before typing your equal sign and other content. Each method has its own advantages and considerations, so choose the one that best fits your needs and workflow.

## FAQs

### What is the easiest way to enter an equal sign in Excel without a formula?

The easiest way to enter an equal sign in Excel without a formula is to prefix the equal sign with an apostrophe (‘). For example, typing **‘=text** in a cell will display **=text** without triggering a formula.

### Will the apostrophe be visible in the cell when using it to enter an equal sign as text?

No, the apostrophe will not be visible in the cell after you press Enter. It serves as a special character that tells Excel to treat the following content as text, but it doesn’t display in the cell itself.

### Can I use the TEXT function to enter an equal sign without a formula?

Yes, you can use the TEXT function to force Excel to display an equal sign as text. The formula would be **=TEXT(“=your text here”,”@”)**. Keep in mind that this method still uses a formula, albeit one that displays the content as text.

### Is it possible to change cell formatting to allow equal signs without formulas?

Yes, you can change a cell’s formatting to the Text category before entering your equal sign and other content. This will prevent Excel from interpreting the equal sign as a formula. To do this, right-click the cell, choose Format Cells, select Text on the Number tab, and click OK.

### What should I consider when choosing a method for entering equal signs as text in Excel?

When choosing a method, consider factors such as the ease and speed of data entry, the likelihood of needing to edit or convert the cells later, and the overall consistency and design of your spreadsheet. The apostrophe prefix method is quick and easy, while the TEXT function provides consistency, and cell formatting is useful for bulk data entry.

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.