# How to use the ISFORMULA function

**What is the ISFORMULA function?**

The ISFORMULA function returns TRUE if a cell contains a formula, FALSE if cell contains text, number, Boolean value, or is empty.

#### Table of Contents

## 1. Introduction

**What is a formula?**

A formula in Excel is an expression that calculates a value based on the values in other cells. Formulas must start with an equals sign "=" and can contain cell references, math operators, functions, constants, arrays, etc. They are used to perform calculations in Excel.

**What is a Boolean value?**

A Boolean value in Excel is a value that can only be TRUE or FALSE. It represents binary logic and is the result of a logical expression using logical operators or a result of a few Excel functions.

Mastering Boolean logic and logical expressions is key to manipulating data and controlling workflow in Excel.

**What is a text value?**

A text value is a value that contains at least one nonnumeric character, for example "hello" without double quotes. Text values are left-aligned in cells, this can however be changed by formatting cells.

**What is a number?**

For Excel to identify a cell value as a number all characters must be numeric digits. Numbers are right-aligned in cells, this can be changed by formatting cells.

**Other IS functions**

Excel Function | Description |
---|---|

ISBLANK(value) | Returns TRUE if the value is empty, FALSE otherwise |

ISERR(value) | Returns TRUE if the value is any error value except #N/A, FALSE otherwise |

ISERROR(value) | Returns TRUE if the value is any error value, FALSE otherwise |

ISEVEN(value) | Returns TRUE if the value is an even number, FALSE for odd numbers |

ISFORMULA(reference) | Returns TRUE if the cell contains a formula, FALSE otherwise |

ISLOGICAL(value) | Returns TRUE if the value is a logical value (TRUE/FALSE), FALSE otherwise |

ISNA(value) | Returns TRUE if the value is the #N/A error, FALSE otherwise |

ISNONTEXT(value) | Returns TRUE if the value is not text, FALSE if it is text |

ISNUMBER(value) | Returns TRUE if the value is a number, FALSE otherwise |

ISODD(value) | Returns TRUE if the value is an odd number, FALSE for even numbers |

## 2. Syntax

ISFORMULA(*reference*)

reference |
Required. The cell you want to check for a formula. |

**What is a cell reference?**

A cell reference lets you "fetch" and use values in other cells in a formula.

There are two types of cell references:

- A1-style reference
- R1C1 reference

The A1-style reference is the default style in Excel, it names columns by letters from A to Z. After Z it starts over with AA, AB, and so on until XFD. Rows are numbered from 1 to 1048576, older Excel versions use less row numbers.

The R1C1-style uses row number and column number like: R1C1, R2C5 and R10C15. Rows are labeled R1, R2, R3 and so on, columns are labeled C1, C2, C3 etc.

The A1-style reference notation is the most common one, here are some examples:

A1 - single cell reference on the same worksheet

A1:D5 - reference to a cell range on the same worksheet

Budget!Z3 - a single cell reference to worksheet Budget

'Budget 2050'!A3 - a single cell reference to a worksheet containing a space character

There are two types of cell references:

- Relative cell references
- Absolute cell references

The examples above are all relative cell references, they change accordingly if a cell is copied and pasted to another cell which absolute cell references do not.

The $ dollar character lets you an absolute cell reference meaning you can lock a cell reference horizontally, vertically or both. Here is one example:

A$1 has a relative column reference but an absolute row reference, this means that the column letter may change if the cell is copied and pasted to cells in another column than A.

## 3. Example

This image shows an Excel spreadsheet with columns for "Value" column B, "Show formula" column C, and "ISFORMULA" and column D. This spreadsheet demonstrates various Excel formulas, errors, and the use of the ISFORMULA function to detect the presence of formulas in cells. This function returns TRUE if the referenced cell contains a formula, and FALSE otherwise.

Formula in cell D3:

ISFORMULA returns FALSE as this cell doesn't contain a formula, it contains number 1.

Formula in cell D4:

ISFORMULA returns FALSE as this cell doesn't contain a formula, it contains number 2.

Formula in cell D5:

ISFORMULA returns TRUE as this cell contains a formula: =1/0 which is a division by zero that returns #DIV/0!.

Formula in cell D6:

ISFORMULA returns TRUE as this cell contains a formula: =MATCH(0,1,0) which is causing the #N/A error.

Formula in cell D7:

ISFORMULA returns TRUE as this cell contains a formula: =INDEX(A1,-5), which is invalid as the row number is negative and therefor returns #REF error.

Formula in cell D8:

ISFORMULA returns TRUE as this cell contains a formula: =dbdsb() is using an undefined function name which returns #NAME error.

Formula in cell D9:

ISFORMULA returns TRUE as this cell contains a formula: =INDEX(B2:D5,5,5) is trying to reference a cell outside the specified range which returns #REF error.

Formula in cell D10:

ISFORMULA returns TRUE as this cell contains a formula: =B3/2 is dividing the value in B3 (2) by 2 which returns 1.

## 4. Example 2

The image above shows different numbers in cells B3:B10. How do you know if a cell or more contains a formula? The ISFORMULA function can take a cell range as a input value which makes it possible to analyze an entire cell range for formulas.

Formula in cell D3:

The formula in cell D3 returns TRUE meaning at least one cell contains a formula. Here is a quick break-down:

- ISFORMULA(B3:B10): Check if cells B3:B10 contains a formula. The function returns an array of boolean values. TRUE indicates a formula and FALSE is something else like a number or text value.
- OR(ISFORMULA(B3:B10)): The OR function returns TRUE if at least one of the values in the array is equal to TRUE. It returns FALSE if all values are equal to FALSE.

### Explaining formula

#### Step 1 - Check if cells contain formulas

ISFORMULA(B3:B10) returns {FALSE; FALSE; TRUE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE}

#### Step 2 - OR logic

The OR function evaluates a logical expression in each argument and if at least one argument returns TRUE the OR function returns TRUE. If all arguments return FALSE the OR function also returns FALSE.

Function syntax: OR(logical1, [logical2])

OR(ISFORMULA(B3:B10))

becomes

OR({FALSE; FALSE; TRUE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE; FALSE})

and returns TRUE.

## 5. ISFORMULA function not working

Keep in mind, the ISFORMULA function returns TRUE even if the formula returns an error. In other words, the content of the cell is what the ISFORMULA is using to determine the type. Not the output in the cell.

### 'ISFORMULA' function examples

The following article has a formula that contains the ISFORMULA function.

### Functions in 'Information' category

The ISFORMULA function function is one of 19 functions in the 'Information' category.

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