Formula Parse Error - Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

A formula parse error occurs when there is an error in the syntax of the formula.

What causes a Formula Parse Error to occur?

A formula parse error occurs when there is an error in the syntax of the formula. Most common causes are an errant comma or other problem with the syntax of the formula itself you are trying to use. Recently the number of formula parse errors have decreased because Google Sheets now automatically changes errant semi-colons to commas and vice versa based on your location.

Can a Formula Parse Error be fixed without modifying the formula itself?

A formula parse error can only be fixed by changing the syntax of the formula. If you had spelled the name of the formula wrong the error would be Name Error.  

What are some potential solutions to fix a Formula Parse Error?

One easy way to find a solution is to look at google sheets help for that formula. Look at how the syntax of the formula is constructed and try to notice if there are any problems. You can also look at to find more information and more use cases of formulas.

What does a Formula Parse Error message look like?

In a Google Sheet the formula parse error will look like #Error. When you hover over the cell with the error you will see the details are Formula Parse Error. There will also be a red triangle in the top right corner of the cell with the error.

Is it possible to prevent Formula Parse Errors from occurring?

It is completely possible to prevent formula parse errors from happening if you do not type the syntax of the formula at all. You can let autofill and google sheets help show you the way. But that's just going to be so slow. I would rather go fast, get errors, and learn to appreciate that you know what the error means now.

How do I identify the specific part of a formula that is causing the Formula Parse Error?

This is hard one. Because Google's error is not being specific here. The error could be inside the formula or be the formula construction itself. Hard to say without seeing your sheet and your specific error.

How do I troubleshoot a Formula Parse Error?

I would recomment troubleshooting directly in sheets itself. Look at the google formula help that sheets provides in the cell as your type the formula. You can access this by clicking the little white question mark as you type, with a blue background. Even after 10 years of using Google Sheets, I use this help. It's impossible to remember over 500 formula syntaxes and uses. You can also find more use cases of formulas at and see every formula in existence!

Is there a way to override or bypass a Formula Parse Error without fixing the issue?

You can wrap the error with IFERROR() sure, but that's not fixing the problem and getting better at Sheets.

How can I avoid Formula Parse Errors when writing formulas?

I'd say lean in. Go make more errors. Find out what they mean and get stronger!

Are there any common patterns in formulas that tend to result in Formula Parse Errors?

The only common pattern I see is in our experience with sheets. or rather in-experience. If you don't know what a formula should look like, it's easy to make a mistake. If you're writing a formula for the first time, just let google help you. And let Better Sheets help you too!

Join Better Sheets to gain access to hundreds of tutorials