Put A Comment Into A Spreadsheet Formula

Q. I know I can add a comment to a cell by clicking on Comment under the Insert toolbar, but is there a way to embed a comment inside a formula? That way, I can explain to viewers what the formula represents without having all those little red triangles sprinkled throughout, making my spreadsheet look as if it has chickenpox. A. Well, there is a way to add a comment inside a formula (and yes, it’s hidden, except when you put your cursor over it), but there also is a way to get the “chickenpox” marks out of Comments . I’ll tell you how to do both.

Answering your immediate question, insert some numbers in a spreadsheet and then, when you write the formula that adds them up ( =SUM(D2:D4 ), attach the following to the end of the formula: +N(“Comments without chickenpox”) . So, for example, the complete formula might look this:

=SUM(D2:D4)+N(“Comments without chickenpox”).

Now, when you highlight the formula cell, the comment appears in the formula box under the toolbar.

You can achieve a similar result using the Comment function. To add a comment to a cell, click on Insert, Comment and type your comment into the balloon that appears. In Excel’s default setting, when you move the cursor off the cell, a small red triangle appears in the upper right-hand corner of the cell (see screenshot above).

When your cursor passes over the comment-embedded cell, the full comment appears in the balloon (see screenshot at left).

You can adjust the default setting so you can control how, or even whether, those red markers appear. To make the adjustment, go to Tools, Options and then click on the View tab.

Under Comments , you have three options: None (all signs of the comment are hidden), Comment indicator only (only the red triangle shows) and Comment & indicator (every comment and its marker shows).


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