Microsoft KB Archive/43995
Excel: Error When Using +, -, @, or = to Start Text in a Cell
The information in this article applies to:
- Microsoft Excel for the Macintosh, versions 2.2, 3.0, 4.0
In Microsoft Excel version 2.2 and later, a text value cannot start with any of the following symbols:
Name of Sign Symbol ------------- ------ Equal sign = Plus sign + Minus sign - At sign @
If these symbols are used to start a cell, the error message "Error in Formula" will result if the entered information is not a valid formula. This behavior is by program design to provide compatibility with other spreadsheet applications, such as Lotus 1-2-3 and Microsoft Excel for Windows, which use these characters to enter formulas.
To enter a text value beginning with one of the above symbols, use one of the following methods:
Precede the text value with a hard space (OPTION+SPACEBAR).
Enter the text value preceded by an equal sign (=) and enclose it in quotation marks, as shown in the following example:
="+/- 2 Weeks"
This behavior is different from Microsoft Excel versions 1.5 and earlier, which allows formulas to begin with a "+", "-", or an "@", and treat any cell beginning with one of those symbols as text.
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Last Reviewed: March 12, 1999