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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 to rectify them quickly and easily.

Formula Parse Errors in Google Sheets.

On several occasions, 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

Suggested read: How to Highlight Duplicates in Google Sheets?

#N/A Error Message.

Firstly, let's focus on the #N/A error that can cause the formula to parse an 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 you are 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 must establish why you get 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 an invalid reference is within your chosen formula. There are several types of #REF! The error that could occur.

Missing Reference:

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

Circular Dependency Google Sheets Error Message.

The other possible reason is a #REF! An error message appears 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 standard formula parse error is the #VALUE! Error. This error appears when a formula parameter 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! An error will appear.

How to Resolve the #VALUE! Error.

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

  1. Check 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? The 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 you first need to 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 its range.

#ERROR! Message.

Finally, we have the #ERROR! The message, 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.

This error message appears when there is a problem, but none of the above errors exist.

How to Resolve the #Error.

This formula parse error can be the most difficult to amend, mainly if you have used complex lookup formulas.

This error message is frustrating as it offers no clues about why it 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.

Suggested read: Master the VLOOKUP Google Sheets Function

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 this article's troubleshooting will eliminate your formula parse error.

How Do I Fix Formula Parse Errors in Google Sheets?

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

Related Articles:

A Reference Isn't Valid Excel Error | How to Fix this Excel Error?

How to Add Leading Zeros in Microsoft Excel

How to Change Currency in Google Sheets


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