# Microsoft KB Archive/170455

 Knowledge Base

# XL97: Natural Language Formula Returns Incorrect Results

Article ID: 170455

APPLIES TO

• Microsoft Excel 97 Standard Edition

This article was previously published under Q170455

## SYMPTOMS

When you calculate a formula by using a column or row label as a reference in a natural language formula, the formula returns a total that is incorrect.

## CAUSE

This problem occurs when the following conditions are true:

• The labels that the natural language formula references are "stacked."

NOTE: Stacked labels are labels that are typed in multiple cells, where one label is in a cell above another label in a cell. -and-

• The labels are in merged cells.

## STATUS

This behavior is by design of Microsoft Excel 97.

Natural language formulas determine the label you reference by first searching to the left, and then searching above the formula you entered. Although a merged cell may appear to encompass many cells, the address of the merged cell is actually the address of the upper-left cell in the merged cell range. The natural language formula uses this upper-left cell as the row or column base for calculations.

The following example contains stacked labels in cells B1 and B2. Each of these cells is merged into column C.

A1: B1: Sales
A2: B2: 1996
A3: B3: Jan C3: Feb
A4: Bill B4: 100 C4: 110
A5: Steve B5: 105 C5: 100

The following formula returns the value 100:

```   =Sum(Sales '1996' Jan:Feb Bill)
```

Because the labels in B1 and B2 are stacked and merged into column C, the natural language formula references the labels in column B and adds only cell B4. However, you might expect that the data in cells B4 and C4 would be added because the formula refers to labels for both Jan and Feb.

For additional information about natural language formulas, please see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

161881 XL97: How to Use Natural Language Formulas

## REFERENCES

For more information about natural language formulas, click the Index tab in Help, type the following text

labels, in formulas

and then double-click the selected text to go to the "Learn about labels and names in formulas" topic.

Additional query words: NLF

Keywords: kbprb KB170455