How to Show Formulas in Google Sheets

Dave | November 30, 2022 |

The quickest way to show all the formulas on a Google Sheet is to use the shortcut Ctrl+' (+' on Mac). This will make every cell in your sheet display its formula instead of the result. Hit the same keyboard shortcut again to toggle the view back to the standard display.

To view the formula in a single cell, you need to click on the cell and ensure the formula bar is visible or put the cell into edit mode by selecting it and hitting the Enter () key or double-clicking on it.

So that’s it! That was quick… Showing formulas is easy, but are you interested in learning how best to hide a formula in a google sheet?

If not, I’ll go over where to find these options on the menu and how to extract a formula from a cell for display.

Show all formulas

This is very useful when trying to understand how a sheet works, especially if you want to look at the formulas in more than once cell at a time.

The keyboard shortcut for show all formulas is Ctrl+' (+' on Mac), but it is also available on the menu under View > Show > Formulae.

Show formulae on the google sheets menu
Show Formulae

Here’s a video showing the effects of Ctrl+' on a sheet displayed on ChromeOS.

Show all formulas

Show or hide the formula bar

When you click on any sheet cell, the formula bar should show the formula for that cell. The formula bar is located just below the toolbar.

Google sheet formula bar
The formula bar

It is possible to hide the formula bar, so if you can’t see it, make sure you haven’t accidentally toggled it to be hidden from the menu options (View > Show > Formula bar).

The google sheet view menu with formula bar highlighted
The menu option to toggle the formula bar

Don’t think that hiding the formula bar will keep your cell formula from prying eyes. If you really want to do that, you need to read up on the 2 best methods we’ve found to hide formulas from your sheet viewers.

Show the formula for a single cell

If you put a cell into edit mode, it will display its formula and the formula result. To put a cell into edit more you either need to double click on it or select it and hit Enter ().

You can see the cell below has the formula =1+2+3+4+5 and displays the formula and the result (15) floats above it.

Single cell in edit mode
A cell in edit mode

Extract and display the formula from a cell

If you want to show the formula next to the results on a cell without putting the cell into edit mode, you will need to extract it and display it in an adjacent cell. To make the contents of a cell display as text you need to add a single quote to the start.

This is very easy. Here’s how to extract a formula for display:

  1. Select the cell you want to extract the formula from by clicking on it.
  2. From the menu, use Edit > Copy, or the shortcut Ctrl+c (+c on Mac).
  3. Select an adjacent cell to display the formula.
  4. From the menu, use Edit > Paste, or the shortcut Ctrl+v (+v on Mac).
  5. Edit the copy of the formula in the formula bar, or by double clicking the cell
  6. Add a single quote to the start (')
A cell edited to show its formula as text by adding a single quote
Cell B3 shows the formula, not the result


I'm a Google Product Expert and mainly post on the subject of Google Sheets.

I've been a software engineer for over 20 years. The constant through all that time? Spreadheets.... Even though I can write programs I use them.... a lot. Sometimes there's just no better alternative!

Find out more about me here.

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