CELL Formula


Starting off, the CELL formula in Excel is a function that returns information about the formatting, location, or contents of a cell. It’s a tool you can use to gain insights into the properties of individual cells within your spreadsheet.

=CELL(info_type, [reference])


What is the purpose of using the CELL formula? This Excel function serves to provide valuable data about a cell’s contents or attributes. It proves incredibly helpful when creating formulas in Excel that need to account for cell properties like formatting, location, or type of content.


The syntax for the CELL function is as follows:

=CELL(info_type, [reference])


The CELL function takes two parameters:

  • info_type (required): This is a text value specifying the type of cell information you want.
  • reference (optional): The cell reference. If omitted, information for the last changed cell is returned.

List of info_Type

  • address“: Returns the cell reference of the top-left cell in the reference.
  • col“: Returns the column number of the cell reference.
  • color“: Returns 1 if the cell is formatted in color for negative values; otherwise, it returns 0.
  • contents“: Returns the value of the cell.
  • filename“: Returns the filename, including the full path, of the current worksheet.
  • format“: Returns the number format of the cell.
  • parentheses“: Returns 1 if the cell is formatted with parentheses for negative values; otherwise, it returns 0.
  • prefix“: Returns the label prefix for the cell.
  • protect“: Returns 1 if the cell is locked; otherwise, it returns 0.
  • row“: Returns the row number of the cell reference.
  • type“: Returns the type of data in the cell. “b” for blank, “l” for label (text), and “v” for value.
  • width“: Returns the column width of the cell.

Remember that the type of information you choose will significantly affect the output of the CELL formula. Therefore, understanding each of these “info_type” values is crucial for advanced data analysis in Excel.


The CELL function returns different types of information about a cell based on the “info_type” argument provided.

Usage notes

Note, the CELL function updates its result only when the workbook recalculates. If you manually change cell formatting, you may not see the result until recalculation.


The CELL function is available in all versions of Excel.

Example #1

Let’s consider an example. If you want to get the address of cell A1:

=CELL("address", A1)

This formula will return “$A$1”.

Example #2

Next, let’s find out the content type of cell A1.

=CELL("type", A1)

This formula will return “label” if A1 contains text, “value” if it contains a number or date, and “array” if it contains an array.

Example #3

What if you want to know if a cell is locked or not? The following formula will do the trick:

=CELL("protect", A1)

This formula will return “0” for an unlocked cell and “1” for a locked cell.

Example #4

To find out the width of a column of a cell:

=CELL("width", A1)

This formula will return the column width of cell A1.

Example #5

Finally, if you need to find the formatting of a cell, you can use:

=CELL("format", A1)

This formula will return a text value representing the number format of cell A1.

Tips and tricks

One useful trick is to combine the CELL formula with IF for conditional formatting based on cell properties.


A key limitation of the CELL formula is that it only updates upon workbook recalculation.

Common errors and solutions

One common error when using CELL is providing an invalid “info_type” argument. Make sure the “info_type” value is correct.

Best Practices

Best practice with the CELL function is to clearly define the “info_type” argument to get the correct information.

List of Related functions

CELL function can be used in conjunction with functions like IF, INDEX, and MATCH to perform more complex tasks.

Frequently Used with the formulas

CELL often works with conditional functions like IF and lookup functions like VLOOKUP for advanced Excel functions for data analysis.

Q. Is it possible to use CELL to retrieve information about multiple cells simultaneously?

Unfortunately, the CELL formula is designed in such a way that it only returns information pertaining to a single cell at any given time.

Q. How can I trigger an update in CELL without necessitating the recalculation of the entire workbook?

You do have options to get around this. One straightforward approach to prompt a recalculation is by utilizing the F9 key. Alternatively, making modifications to any cell within the workbook will also do the trick.

To wrap things up, it becomes apparent that the CELL function is no less than an advanced Excel formula. It is equipped with the capacity to provide a myriad of details about individual cells. Given its capabilities, it becomes an integral component in constructing dynamic and proficient spreadsheets.

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