Microsoft Excel is excellent for tabulating, sorting, and visualizing data. Yet, it’s a source of frustration when you find yourself facing pesky error messages that pop up and halt your operations. Resolving them is easier when you know the common errors in Excel and their meaning.

1. #DIV/0

The Cause

The #DIV/0 is one of the most frequent Excel error messages. As its name suggests, it results from trying to divide by zero. Excel will display this error message when the divisor cell is blank or contains a zero.

The Fix

Enter any nonzero numeric value in the divisor cell, determine why it’s blank, or update the formula to fix an incorrect cell reference.

2. #VALUE

The Cause

The #VALUE error also alerts you to a mathematical formula issue typically resulting from non-numeric data where the program expects a number. Using the OFFSET function to create pivot tables and charts can produce this if you have mixed text and numeric inputs.

The Fix

Confirm your formula references the correct nonblank cell and contains numeric data. If that’s true, you likely need to remove some inaccurate characters or extra spaces in the formula.

3. #REF

The Cause

The #REF error appears when you’ve referenced an invalid cell. It differs from #DIV/0 because the program can’t locate the cell you’ve included in your formula. This error often stems from an accidental column, row, or sheet deletion.

The Fix

When the error first pops up, you can use the toolbar or keyboard shortcuts to β€œundo” and replace the data you’ve accidentally removed. If the data deletion was intentional, rewrite the formula to reference valid cells.

4. ####

The Cause

Excel posts #### when the column’s width is too narrow to display the cell’s data. This error also appears if a formula results in a negative time or date.

The Fix

Double-click on the column header to quickly remedy column width β€” the program automatically adjusts the dimension. For negative time and date errors, correct them directly within the cell.

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5. #NUM

The Cause

The #NUM error pops up when your formulas include inaccurate numeric values, usually resulting from an invalid argument or characters. For example, using a dollar sign in your formula can cause #NUM. The error also displays if the function produces impossible calculations, such as infinity.

The Fix

Verify your referenced cells contain no special characters, symbols, or formatted dates. Recheck mathematical formulas to ensure they’re correct and executable.

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