How to Insert Notes in Formulas using a Function
by Avantix Learning Team | Updated July 30, 2016
Applies to: Microsoft® Excel® 2010, 2013 and 2016 (Windows)
In addition to adding comments in Excel, there is a relatively obscure function called the N function that you can use to enter notes directly within a formula. The N function converts a value to a number and has been around for a long while so you can use it in older versions of Excel as well.
Recommended articles: Hiding Notes in Excel (Part 1: Comments) and How to Hide Formulas from Clients, Colleagues and Other Users
The N function has the following syntax:
Using the N function to enter notes
You can use the N function to enter notes directly in a formula. Simply enter +N(“whatever note you want”) at the end of the formula. The text of the note must appear in double quotes (“”) and returns a value of 0 so it does not affect the calculation.
=COUNTA(A1:A900)+N(“This sample data set extracted from United Global data 2014”)
The N function returns values as follows:
- If the value is or refers to a number, the N function returns the number so in the formula =N(A1) where A1 contains 400, the returned value would be 400.
- If the value is or refers to a date, the function returns the serial number of the date so in the formula =N(A1) where A1 contains 1/1/2014, the returned value would be 41640 or the number of days from the first date in the system.
- If the value is or refers to TRUE, the N function returns 1.
- If the value is or refers to FALSE, the N function returns 0.
- If the value is or refers to an error value the N function returns the error value.
- If the value is or refers to anything else (like a note in quotes) the N function returns 0.
Finding formulas with notes
You can find formulas with notes entered using the N function with the Find command:
- Click on the Home tab on the Ribbon.
- Click on the Find and Select button in the Editing group.
- Click on Find. Alternatively, you can press Control + F. The Find dialog appears.
- In the Find dialog, enter N( or N(*) in the Find what area.
- Choose to search within the sheet or workbook and to look in formulas.
- Click on Find. Continue clicking on Find for each instance of a note using the N function. You can also click on Find All for a listing of all instances.
You don’t normally use the N function in a formula to convert values to numbers because Excel automatically converts values. The N function is provided for compatibility with other spreadsheet programs but also provides an interesting way to enter notes in Excel.
Did you find this article helpful? If you would like to receive new articles, join our email list.
To request this page in an alternate format, contact us.
Copyright 2017 Avantix Learning Inc.
Recommended Microsoft Excel courses
You may also like
You can use keyboard shortcuts to increase or decrease decimal places. Press Alt to access the Ribbon …
You can easily show or hide formulas in a number of ways in Microsoft Excel. You can use a keyboard shortcut, click a button and even use a formula to show formulas …
You can use 3D references in Excel formulas to calculate across multiple worksheets that are structured in the same way. A 3D reference refers to the same cell or range of cells on multiple worksheets.
Microsoft, the Microsoft logo, Microsoft Office and related Microsoft applications and logos are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in Canada, US and other countries. All other trademarks are the property of the registered owners.
Avantix Learning | 1 Yonge Street, Suite 1801 (Toronto Star Building), Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5E 1W7 | firstname.lastname@example.org