Common Microsoft Excel Errors & Their Fixes

Microsoft Excel stands at the forefront of applications designed to boost productivity and keep you or your company’s space organized. Its customizable worksheets and access to a good variety of tables, charts, and the like guarantee that you can sort your quantitative, and to some extent, qualitative data with ease.

Excel comes loaded with many features but sometimes it can get problematic to understand its vastness. We are here to share some helpful tips on how to unjumble your workflow in the app and get back on track quickly.

Equal Sign Is Your Best Friend

We cannot stress this enough. The equal sign is pivotal for any number or formula you are going to put into your worksheet. If there is no equal sign to back up the product of a formula, you are probably going to mess up your entire data set, and you do not want that. Make sure to have the back of your mind constantly reminding you about its importance when dealing with numbers. It should be muscle memory, to keep any delays or frustrating situations from occurring frequently. You can also keep a strong internet with a plugin for inputting important symbols. Utilizing AT&T internet is one of the best options out there to make sure you have a good speed to take care of your plugins, and thus, any excel inputs that may skip past your eyes.

Know Your Data

You probably already have most of these at your fingertips but we will go ahead anyway and mention the chunky bits:

1: Multiplication

A common mistake many newbies make when starting with Excel and its formulas is using the “X” sign instead of the asterisk “*” for multiplication. Excel is very specific with its command inputs and it simply does not register the X as a multiplication function.

2: Quotation Around Text

Excel is mostly about formulas and numbers but they cannot take up 100% of your worksheet. Sometimes, you do need text to perform essential linkages and define data. To make sure that your text does not interrupt or disrupt your formulas, put quotation marks around it to notify excel of its nature. Again, there is always a high level of specification needed for numbers and this bit is important to keep the worksheet organized.

3: Formatting

Users are given many options when putting in numbers and extracting them. This also amounts to formatting them, which can be in the form of how many decimal places should be used. How many significant figures count? When and where are commas placed in big numbers? The list is endless. To ensure that formatting is not a hassle to deal with, keep a set standard format for each of your worksheets. You can either choose to roll with the Excel standard. Alternatively, our recommendation is the academic standard. Which doesn’t drift too far off from Excel except for a few iterations:

  • Scientific notation:

This is the perfect solution for big numbers and a general tip to make sure you do not confuse yourself with numbers reaching the million mark. Or more. Scientific notation sweeps up a big number cluster and neatly arranges it into notation that shows the general specifics of its magnitude so you can see the entire thing packed into one box. Simple.

  • Tables:

This option might be seen by a few as an additional add-on that takes time more and yields fewer results. Not true if you know how to make it work. Would you rather fill up loads of columns and tables with numbers when making comparisons or neatly pack it all into a scatter chart? Or perhaps, a pie chart? The thing with tables is that there’s always something to tantalize your eyes and get you organized at the same time if you know what to do with your data. Scatter charts are the basic go-to for making comparisons between multiple data. They’re also quite easy on the eyes and come with loads of customizations. This can range from anything like error bars or being more specific and conjuring up x and y values for more in-depth graph details.

Deciphering Error Values

On the rare occasion that you do come across data errors or Excel error codes, Excel will give you weird symbols and letters that are nothing short of hieroglyphics for those who can’t interpret them. Don’t worry. We’re here for you:

1: #####:

Let’s start with the hashtag galore. This pesky error is indicative of two situations. Either the cell you are working on has a negative date in it which does not make sense or the column width is not wide enough to properly display all the data given. There are very simple fixes for both situations. You can drag and enlarge the column width and give your data more breathing space or, for the latter, you can check your date and get rid of the negative sign in it. Because a negative date is a digital chthonic sign that you wouldn’t want anything to do with.

2: #NAME?

This is Excel’s way of getting in your face and telling you straight up that it does not recognize the text you’ve entered. This common error typically occurs with the range defined. When working with formulas, it’s imperative to enter a range that Excel can work with. If you forget to put in, for example, quotation marks around a text or the range name are incorrect, then this error will pop up to indicate you’ve hit a roadblock with any necessary calculations needed. Do a quick check-up of your data and get it fixed.

3: #NUM!

The interpretation of this error is almost the same as the one above but this time it’s an entire formula that isn’t recognizable by Excel. It could also be due to a formula spitting out a number that is too small or too large for the system to recognize. You’d be much better of checking your numbers again and the formula input. Usually, this is a case of human error and can be quickly resolved.


Excel is a brilliant option for anyone whose work revolves around quantitative data processing. Engineers, Software persons, and anyone who has numbers to work with daily find it a blessing to get their work sorted out by Microsoft Excel. Hopefully, with some of the tips talked about here, you’ll find it a tad bit easier to work on this platform and boost your productivity to even greater horizons.

Priyanka is an entrepreneur & content marketing expert. She writes tech blogs and has expertise in MS Office, Excel, and other tech subjects. Her distinctive art of presenting tech information in the easy-to-understand language is very impressive. When not writing, she loves unplanned travels.