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What is a Formula Parse Error in Google Sheets? How to Solve Every Occurrence

Jan 16, 2023

Seeing the formula parse error pop-up message is incredibly frustrating. If you don't know why it has appeared, it can take a long time to fix, or you might get forced to remove it altogether and abandon the project.

This article will identify some of the most common formula parse errors in Google Sheets and how you can rectify them quickly and easily.

Formula Parse Errors in Google Sheets

There are several different occasions where a formula parse error can appear in Google Sheets. Here is a quick breakdown of each error message we will discuss in this article:

  • #N/A Error Message

  • #DIV/0 Error Message

  • #REF! Google Sheets Error Message

  • Circular Dependency Google Sheets Error

  • #VALUE! Google Sheets Error Message

  • #NAME? Error Message

  • #NUM! Error Message

  • #ERROR! Message

#N/A Error Message

Firstly, let's focus on the #N/A error that can cause the formula parse error message to appear. This error tends to occur if a required value within the formula is not there.

The most common time this error appears is when you use a lookup function like VLOOKUP. The formula parse error occurs when the relevant value does not exist.

How to Resolve the #N/A Error

Interestingly, if you receive the #N/A error message, it doesn't necessarily mean there's an issue with your formula. It could be there is an absence of a value that is causing this issue.

To solve this problem, combine your formula with an IF statement, where your IF statement is IF the '#N/A error occurs, show "Search Value Unavailable."

#DIV/0 Error Message

The #DIV/0 error message shows when one of the numbers within your formula is divided by 0. The function returns the #DIV/0 error as this equation does not make sense.

How to Resolve the #DIV/0 Error

To rectify this issue, you need to establish why you are getting a 0 value from your denominator.

Once identified, you can amend your formula where necessary. You could then implement an IFERROR function statement to remind you if this occurs again in the future, to save time rectifying the issue in the future.

#REF! Google Sheets Error Message

The #REF! error occurs if there is an invalid reference within your chosen formula. There are several types of #REF! error that could occur.

Missing Reference:

A #REF! error occurs if part of your formula references a cell that is missing. This can occur when you input a working formula but then remove a cell, row, or column later on. Ensure you keep all of your data cells, or you will have to rerun your formulas.

Circular Dependency Google Sheets Error Message

The other possible reason a #REF! error message appears is if your formula references itself. If this occurs, the function will continue to go around in circles and get stuck in an infinite loop.

#VALUE! Google Sheets Error Message

Another common formula parse error is the #VALUE! error. This error appears when a parameter of the formula differs from what Google Sheets anticipates. For example, if you use a function that requires numbers as a parameter, like the SUM function, but instead, you input a text value into the blank cell that you are referencing, the #VALUE! error will appear.

How to Resolve the #VALUE! Error

If you see the #VALUE! error message, there are a couple of things you can do:

  1. Check to see if any of the cells you are referencing contain a text value. In some instances, what might look like numeric values could be text values, so ensure you review them thoroughly.

  2. Search for any random spaces in your cell range or formula. Blank cells or cells with spaces included can cause the #VALUE! error, but are easy to resolve.

#NAME? Error Message

The #Name? error appears if there is a syntax error within the formula. That might be an incorrectly named range, a spelling mistake, or a lack of quotation marks in the cell references.

How to Resolve the #NAME? Error

The #NAME error tends to occur when there is a syntax issue, so the first thing you need to do is check if there are any spelling errors in your document.

#NUM! Error Message

You will get served the #NUM! error if the formula includes invalid numerical values. For example, if you attempt to get the square root but the number is negative, or the calculation is too large for Google Sheets.

How to Resolve the #NUM! Error

As this issue occurs when there is a numeric value issue, you should re-evaluate your calculations to ensure they don't include negatives or require Google to establish a number outside of its range.

#ERROR! Message

Finally, we have the #ERROR! message, which is the most frustrating formula parse error to receive. It tends to occur if Google Sheets doesn't understand your formula, but doesn't know why.

Essentially, this error message appears when there is a problem, but it is none of the errors listed above.

How to Resolve the #Error

This formula parse error can be the most difficult to amend, especially if you have used lookup formulas that are complex in nature.

This error message is so frustrating as it offers no clues about why it has occurred. If you get this message, here are some steps you could take:

  1. Remove any currency or percentage symbols.

  2. Ensure commas or colons are in place to separate range references.

  3. See if the numbers in your brackets match and don't cause logical errors.

Frequently Asked Questions About Common Formula Parse Errors

What Does the Formula Parse Error Mean?

The formula parse error message appears when there is an error in the formula you have tried to use in Google Sheets.

How Do I Eradicate Formula Parse Error Google Sheets?

Following the troubleshooting in this article will get rid of your formula parse error.

How Do I Fix Formula Parse Errors in Google Sheets?

The most frequent reason a formula parse error in google sheets occurs is due to a mistyped formula. To fix formula parse errors in google sheets, check your formulas are input correctly.

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