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How to fix formula parse error in Google Sheets

If you’re new to Google Sheets and you get different errors, don’t be upset. It happens sometimes. However, this doesn’t mean that these errors cannot be fixed. When working in Excel or Google Sheets, you must have encountered errors. In fact, errors occur mostly because of incorrect formulas or inattention when working with spreadsheets. However, there are a number of other reasons that can provoke such errors.

Of course, this can be frustrating, especially if it’s a long formula where formula parsing errors may not be obvious. However, if you have a problem when working with Google Sheets, the first thing you should do is to understand the reason for such a scenario. Well, let’s take a closer look at how to fix formula parse errors in Google Sheets.

What are the causes of formula parsing errors in Google Sheets?

Basically, this error means that Google Sheets cannot interpret your formula. The service simply can’t complete the formula request, so it returns an error message. This can happen in a variety of ways, from typos to mathematical impossibilities.

Understanding the meaning of error messages and knowing how to fix them is an important step toward becoming a formula professional in Google Sheets. Let’s look at the main causes of these errors:

  • Trying to parse data from a non-existent file.
  • There’s an error in the data you’re trying to parse. This can happen when you load a file containing data to parse. If this is the case and downloading the file results in a parse error, you can try downloading the file again or look for an updated file. You can also try downloading the file from another website, if possible.
  • The parsing data for the file may not be compatible with the operating system or program you’re using. Be sure to check this before downloading the file.
  • Permissions may not be sufficient or permissions allowing access to the file data haven’t yet been granted. Request the necessary permissions and, if granted, retry analyzing the data.
  • There’s not enough disk space required for parsing, resulting in a parsing error. When writing a file to a hard drive or USB, make sure there’s enough disk space for the parsing results of the data. You can also move the file to be disassembled or run it on the hard disk if you’re disassembling it from removable media.

Regardless of what the reason for the formula’s failure is, these errors can easily be fixed. Just as easy as creating a master sheet in Google Sheets.

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How to fix a #N/A error in Google Sheets

Error #N/A indicates that no value was found. Either the value really isn’t in the table, in which case it’s a “normal” error, or it’s entered differently in the source table and in the table from which it’s taken for the search.

This problem also occurs frequently when using “VLOOKUP” type search formulas in Google Sheets. For example, if you’re looking for a value and it doesn’t exist in a given range, you’re likely to see the #N/A error.

The #N/A error doesn’t always mean a problem with the formula itself, but a certain circumstance (a missing value) that causes the error. If you want to eliminate this error, you can combine the formula with the “IF” statement, which outputs a custom message when the #N/A error occurs. A very useful function for dealing with such issues is the “IFERROR” function.

The good news is that the format of, for example, your columns in the table won’t change in any way from such errors after you have made them the same size in Google Sheets.

How to fix the #ERROR! error in Google Sheets

This formula parsing error message is unique to Google Sheets and has no direct equivalent in Excel. It means that Google Sheets cannot understand the formula you entered because it cannot parse the formula to make it work.

It can simply be a randomly typed character that Google Sheets can’t interpret (a semicolon before a formula or a period after it, for example). It can also often be an unclosed array of curly brackets. A forgotten ampersand between joined text strings will also cause such an error.

If you want to avoid the #ERROR! message during parsing, you must make sure that the formula is written correctly and correct any syntax errors you find. Be sure to carefully review the formula for inaccuracies or errors in the formula itself.

After you fix this error, you can safely continue working with your document, and you can set the print area in your spreadsheet from Google Sheets.

How to fix the #NUM! error in Google Sheets

You get this error when your formula contains invalid numeric values. For example, if you’re trying to find the square root of a negative number, or if the calculation results in a very large number that’s outside the scope of Google Sheets. This error invariably means that there’s an error in one or more numeric arguments.

Usually, the error message gives a good clue about the problem that caused the error. For example, if the error message says:

  • “Function SQRT parameter 1 value is negative. It should be positive or zero.”

Then it’s quite clear that your first parameter in the SQRT function is evaluated as a negative number.

Therefore, to solve this problem, you can re-evaluate your calculations to make sure that they don’t result in a negative number. To see the result of the operation, you can select the operation by highlighting it in the formula bar. You should see the result of the calculation in a small pop-up window just above the formula bar.

However, you should be aware that if the operation is evaluated to a very large number, you won’t be able to see its result in the pop-up window.

After you fix this error, you can also try using dark mode with Google Sheets. Sometimes, it can become pleasing to the eye, especially when it’s dark.

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How do Google Sheets differ from Microsoft Excel?

Google Sheets is an evolution of classic Excel, but don’t forget that they’re products of different corporations. The main advantage of the product from Google is that it works in the cloud, which gives ample opportunity to work together on a document in real-time. You don’t have to transfer files and think every time about which version is fresher. You don’t have to make a lot of extra steps (save the document, close it, open an email, find a user, send him the file, etc.).

It’s enough to copy the link from the browser and send it immediately in any convenient way or send a link to the collaboration invitation from the built-in sender. You can see the changes in Google Sheets made by your colleague, comment on them, and discuss them directly in the file.

Of course, Excel developers are trying not to lose their position and try to improve their product, for which they have implemented integration with the OneDrive cloud. However, in practice, it all looks clumsy, you have to do more actions, and because of that, you lose speed and efficiency.


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