8 Pro Tips: Fixing Excel You Can’t Change Part of An Array Error

In Microsoft Excel, the error message “You can’t change part of an array” typically arises when trying to edit or modify a portion of the array formula without respecting the array’s structure. When it occurs, interrupts the user’s working experience. The warning appears with a short message that looks like:

Excel you can't change part of an array

So, join us on this journey to explore the Excel you can’t change part of an array, its common causes, and most importantly how to resolve this error.

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A Brief Overview of Array Formula in Excel

Excel array formula is one such feature that can execute multiple calculations over single or multiple numbers of items in the array. You can consider this array as the combination of value’s rows and columns. Array formulas can give you single or multiple results in return.

Array Formula in Excel

The array formula which has multiple cells is known as a multi-cell formula. Whereas, the array formula present in the single-cell is known as the single-cell formula.

What Does It Mean When Excel Says You Cannot Change Part of An Array?

The error specifies that you’re trying to edit or modify a portion of the array, which is not allowed. However, the array formulas involve consistency & integrity in their structure. Any alteration must be applied to the whole array, not just the subset of its elements.

Root Causes of the Error:

  1. Array Dependencies- The array formulas are interrelated with each other, and changing one part without considering others can cause an error.
  2. Mismatched Functions: Certain functions & formulas may not be compatible with an array, triggering the error unexpectedly.
  3. Data Validation: The existence of data validation rules can restrict changes, resulting in you can’t change part of an array Excel error.

How to Fix Excel You Can’t Change Part Of An Array Error?

Try the below step-by-step workarounds to fix this error.

Method 1- Match The Syntax

Usually, the array formulas strictly follow the standard formula syntax. It starts with an equal sign. In the array formulas, you can use the Excel built-in functions. So, press the Ctrl + Shift + Enter keys to enter the formula.

Excel closes the array formula within the braces. But if you manually add these braces then the array formula will get converted to the text string and this won’t work correctly.

To build a complex formula, Array functions are quite an efficient option to choose from.

Suppose you are using a complex formula like this:


 So instead of using the above complex formula, you can use the array formula =SUM(C2:C11*D2:D11)

Also Read: Fix “Microsoft Excel Cannot Access the File” Error

Method 2- Rules For Changing Array Formulas

If you are rigorously trying to make changes in the formula bar or in the formula cell but getting the same error, in that case, quickly cross-check the below-mentioned array formula guidelines.

Breaking the rules for changing array formulas also results in this message

  • If you are entering a single-cell array formula, then choose the cell and hit the F2 button to make easy changes.
  • After that press the Ctrl+Shift+Enter button from your keyboard.
  • If in case, you are entering the multi-cell array formula then choose the entire cell having this formula and then press the F2 button. after that mentioned set of rules:
  • You are not allowed to move individual cells having the formula, but as a group, you can all of them at once. Ding this will automatically change the formula cell references accordingly.

To shift this to a new place, choose the entire cell and press the Ctrl+X.  Choose any new location, where you want to paste it. After that make press the Ctrl+V button.

  • In the array formula, you can’t delete any cells if you are trying to do so then it’s obvious to get the “You cannot change part of an array”

But you have the option to delete the complete formula and then start again from the beginning.

  • Nor, you can’t add new cells to the section of result cells. However, you have the option to add new data within your Excel worksheet and then expand the array formulas.
  • After doing complete changes, hit the Ctrl+Shift+Enter.

Using the array constants (part of array formula that is typed in formula bar) you can easily save up your time. But remember one thing that array constants also have a few usage and editing rules.

Method 3- Use Ctrl+Shift+Enter

It is the basic and most important component of array formulas which you need to enter by using the Ctrl+Shift+Enter.

Here are the steps to create an array formula:

  • Choose cells that contain the array formula.
  • Assign the formula either by typing or using the formula bar.
  • After completing all these, enter the formula and then type Ctrl+Shift+Enter.
  • Just put the formula within the array.

Method 4- Evaluate the Array Formula

Microsoft Excel offers an excellent feature known as “Evaluate Formula” that help you to step through the formula to check the intermediate results. You can even use this feature to deal with this error.

Here is how you can use it:

  • First, select the spreadsheet cell with a formula.
  • Click “Formulas” tab >> “Evaluate Formula” under the group ‘Formula Auditing’.

Evaluate Formula

  • Under opened Evaluate Formula dialogbox. You have to click on “Evaluate” option to verify the formula & to see which portion is causing the issue.

Also Read: Resolve ‘Excel Cannot Open The File ‘(Filename)’.Xlsx’ Error

Method 5- Use Names To Refer To Arrays

One plus point about the Excel arrays is that it offers the option of including the named ranges. One can use these named ranges either in the time series or in the table formulas which is enforced for using the cell references.

With the array formulas, you will see that your spreadsheet formula will be easier to read and interpret with named cells.

Method 6- Select Arrays With A Keyboard Shortcut

If you are working with an already existing cell array formula then it’s important to choose and edit the complete array.

It’s quite tedious but there are some shortcuts available to use this.

  • To select the cell of array press the “Ctrl” and forward-slash (“/”). Similarly, you can select the entire array.
  • Press the F2 key or you can edit the formula present within the formula bar.

Last but not least after completing all this just type Ctrl+Shift+Enter.

Method 7- Check the Conditional Formatting to Solve It

Sometimes, this error can be prompted via conditional formatting rules. So, you have to go to “Home” tab and then click on “Conditional Formatting.” After this, click on “Manage Rules” to check if there’re any guidelines that reference arrays.

Manage Rules

Method 8- Remove Part Of An Array In Excel to Fix Excel You Can’t Change Part of an Array

If the above fixes won’t resolve the error you cannot change part of an array then try removing some part of your array. Doing this will definitely going to work.

After deleting the formula, you will see that the result of the formula is also deleted. If you don’t want to remove the values then only remove the formula.

Learn how both these tasks should be performed.

Delete A Formula But Keep The Results

To delete up the formula and keep up the result you need to copy the formula after that and paste it in the same cell. But this time you have to use the Paste Values option.

1. Choose the cell ranges or cells having the formulas in them. If you have used the array formula, then firstly you need to choose the cells present in the ranges of the cells having the array formula.

  • Tap to the cell in the array formula.
  • Hit the Home tab, and then from the Editing group, choose the Find & Select.

Excel you can't change part of an array

  • After that tap to the Go To > Special > Current array.

Delete A Formula But Keep The Results 2

2. Go to the Home tab and then from the Clipboard group, choose the Copy

Delete A Formula But Keep The Results 3

3. Go to the Home tab and then from the Clipboard group, tap the arrow present below the Paste button, and then hit the Paste Values.

Delete A Formula But Keep The Results 4

Delete An Array Formula

For deleting up the array formula, choose all cells to present within the range of cells having the array formula in it. After that perform the following step:

  • Tap to the cell present in the array formula.
  • Go to the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Find & Select, and then click Go To.

Excel you can't change part of an array

  • Click Special>Current array

Delete A Formula But Keep The Results 2

  • At last, hit the DELETE.

Also Read: How To Fix Cannot Insert Object In Excel

Related FAQs:

What Is Part of An Array in Excel?

A part of an array in Excel is refer to a row or column of values, or a combination of rows & columns of values.

Which Of the Methods Does Not Change the Array It Is Called On?

The concat() method does not change the existing arrays.

Can This Error Lead to Data Loss?

No, this error cannot lead to data loss.

What Should I Do If the Manual Fixes Don't Work for My Excel Sheet to Fix this Error?

If the workarounds mentioned in this post don’t work, it is advisable to seek Excel professional assistance.

Final Thoughts

Undoubtedly, using the Array formulas is a great option to use but, it has disadvantages too. Like large array formulas may result in slower calculation or may show you various errors including you can’t change part of an array Excel.

However, in this blog we have revealed the solutions to get rid of it and enjoy your working experience in spreadsheet seamlessly.

Priyanka is a 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.