CELL: Excel Formulae Explained

The CELL function in Excel is a versatile tool that can provide a wealth of information about the contents, formatting, and location of a specific cell. This function can be particularly useful when you're dealing with large spreadsheets and need to quickly obtain specific details about certain cells. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of the CELL function, exploring its syntax, uses, and the types of information it can provide.

Understanding the CELL Function

The CELL function in Excel is an information function, meaning it is used to obtain information about a cell. This could be the cell's contents, its formatting, or its location within the spreadsheet. The function takes two arguments: the info_type and the reference. The info_type specifies the type of information you want to retrieve, while the reference is the cell you want to get information about.

The syntax for the CELL function is as follows: CELL(info_type, [reference]). The info_type is a required field, while the reference is optional. If no reference is provided, the function will return information about the last cell that was changed.

Info_type Options

There are several options available for the info_type argument. These include "address", which returns the cell's address; "col", which returns the cell's column number; "color", which returns 1 if the cell is color-formatted for negative values, and 0 otherwise; and "contents", which returns the cell's value.

Other info_type options include "filename", which returns the full file path, file name, and sheet name; "format", which returns the cell's format; "parentheses", which returns 1 if the cell is formatted with parentheses for positive or all values, and 0 otherwise; "prefix", which returns the cell's alignment; and "row", which returns the cell's row number.

Using the CELL Function

Using the CELL function is relatively straightforward. You simply need to input the appropriate info_type and reference into the function. For example, if you wanted to find out the address of cell A1, you would type =CELL("address", A1) into a cell. The function would then return $A$1.

It's important to note that the CELL function is volatile, meaning it will recalculate every time the worksheet changes. This can be useful if you want to keep track of changes to a cell, but it can also slow down your worksheet if you're using the function frequently.

Practical Applications

The CELL function can be used in a variety of ways to streamline your work with Excel. For example, you could use it to create a dynamic reference to the last cell that was changed. This could be useful if you're working with a large dataset and want to quickly check the details of any changes you make.

Another practical application of the CELL function is to use it in conjunction with other functions to perform more complex tasks. For example, you could use the CELL function with the IF function to perform a task based on the formatting of a cell. If the cell is formatted for negative values, you could have the IF function return a specific value or perform a specific task.

Common Errors and Troubleshooting

While the CELL function is generally straightforward to use, there are a few common errors that you might encounter. One of these is the #VALUE! error, which occurs when the info_type argument is not recognized. To avoid this error, make sure you're using a valid info_type option.

Another common error is the #REF! error, which occurs when the reference argument is not valid. This could happen if you're trying to reference a cell that doesn't exist, or if you're using a reference that Excel doesn't recognize. To avoid this error, make sure your reference is valid and correctly formatted.

Troubleshooting Tips

If you're encountering errors with the CELL function, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take. First, check your info_type and reference arguments to make sure they're valid and correctly formatted. If you're still encountering errors, try using the function in a different cell to see if the problem is with the cell you're trying to get information about.

Another troubleshooting tip is to use the Evaluate Formula tool in Excel. This tool allows you to step through a formula and see how Excel is calculating it. This can help you identify any errors or issues with your formula.


The CELL function in Excel is a powerful tool that can provide a wealth of information about a cell. By understanding its syntax and uses, you can leverage this function to streamline your work with Excel and gain deeper insights into your data. Whether you're a novice Excel user or an experienced pro, the CELL function is a valuable addition to your Excel toolkit.

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