How to use the Excel ISFORMULA function
The ISFORMULA function in Excel can be used to check whether a cell contains a formula or not. Regardless of whether a formula is valid or in an error state, this function will still return TRUE if a formula is found.
The ISFORMULA function accepts one argument, the reference. This is the reference to the cell where you want to check for the existence of a formula.
The function returns TRUE if a formula is found, or FALSE otherwise.
Consider the following scenario: you are a manager at a company, and you instruct your employees to update a spreadsheet every day and put in a timestamp.
Figure 1. Sample employee logs with a formula
The dates are added manually by each employee. However, one of the cells contains a formula for displaying the current date, which will always keep the log updated regardless of whether the employee was present or not. And it is indiscernible from the other entries, at least at first glance.
In order to detect whether someone has used a formula to fool the boss, you can use the following formula:
Before we see the result, let’s take this one step further and use an IF statement to make things more readable.
Let’s see this in action:
Figure 2. Using ISFORMULA function in Excel
The ISFORMULA function is often used in conjunction with FORMULATEXT. FORMULATEXT displays the actual text of the formula contained in a given cell. Here’s a generic FORMULATEXT function: