How to Show Formulas When Printing in Excel 2016

By Greg Harvey

A basic printing technique that you may need occasionally is printing the formulas in an Excel 2016 worksheet instead of printing the calculated results of the formulas. You can check over a printout of the formulas in your worksheet to make sure that you haven’t done anything stupid (like replace a formula with a number or use the wrong cell references in a formula) before you distribute the worksheet company-wide.

Before you can print a worksheet’s formulas, you have to display the formulas, rather than their results, in the cells by clicking the Show Formulas button (the one with the icon that looks like a page of a calendar with a tiny 15 that’s above the Error Checking button) in the Formula Auditing group on the Ribbon’s Formulas tab (Alt+MH).

Excel then displays the contents of each cell in the worksheet the way it appears in the Formula bar or when you’re editing it in the cell. Notice that value entries lose their number formatting, formulas appear in their cells (Excel widens the columns with best-fit so that the formulas appear in their entirety), and long text entries no longer spill into neighboring blank cells.

Excel allows you to toggle between the normal cell display and the formula cell display by pressing Ctrl+`. (That is, press Ctrl and the key with the tilde on top.) This key — usually found in the upper-left corner of your keyboard — does double-duty as a tilde and a weird backward accent mark. (Don’t confuse that backward accent mark with the apostrophe that appears on a key below the quotation mark!)

After Excel displays the formulas in the worksheet, you are ready to print it as you would any other report. You can include the worksheet column letters and row numbers as headings in the printout so that if you do spot an error, you can pinpoint the cell reference right away.

To include the row and column headings in the printout, put a check mark in the Print check box in the Headings column on the Sheet Options group of the Page Layout tab of the Ribbon before you send the report to the printer.

After you print the worksheet with the formulas, return the worksheet to normal by clicking the Show Formulas button on the Formulas tab of the Ribbon or by pressing Ctrl+`.