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Expanding the Formula Bar

Formulas range from very simple to the very complex. As people began writing longer and longer formulas in Excel, an annoying problem began to appear: If the formula for a selected cell was longer than the formula bar, the formula bar would wrap and extend over the worksheet (see Figure 3.6). In many cases, the formula would obscure the first few rows of the worksheet. This was frustrating, especially if the selected cell was in the top few rows of the spreadsheet.

Figure 3.6

Figure 3.6 In prior versions of Excel, the formula bar could obscure cells on a worksheet. In this case, both the active cell, E4, and the dependent cell, F4, are hidden.

Excel 2007 features a new formula bar that prevents the formula from obscuring the spreadsheet. For example, in Figure 3.7, Cell E4 contains a formula that is longer than the formula bar. Notice the two new controls at the right end of the formula bar: a scrollbar and Expand Formula Bar icon (which looks like a down-pointing double arrow).

Figure 3.7

Figure 3.7 By default, Excel 2007 shows the initial portion of the formula.

You use the formula bar scrollbar to scroll through the formula, one line at a time. You use the Expand Formula Bar icon to expand the formula bar. As shown in Figure 3.8, expanding the formula bar actually moves the grid down. This way, you can see the formula bar and still see the cells in the grid, too. In expanded mode, the Expand Formula Bar icon is replaced by a double up-pointing arrow that you can use to contract the formula bar back to one line.

Figure 3.8

Figure 3.8 You can click a button to expand the formula bar.

After you collapse the formula bar, Excel has the annoying tendency to show only the last line of the formula. This could be confusing, especially if you look in the formula bar to learn whether a cell starts with an equals sign. For example, someone new to the spreadsheet shown in Figure 3.9 might not understand that Cell E4 contains a formula.

Figure 3.9

Figure 3.9 After you collapse the formula bar, it might show only the last line of the formula. This is a confusing view because it is not obvious how the cell value can result from this formula bar.

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