Why Does Excel Show

As a long-time user of Excel, I’ve often pondered the question: why does Excel show certain behaviors? Let’s delve into the technical reasons behind some of the quirks you might encounter while using this powerful spreadsheet software.

Formula Errors

One common sight in Excel is the appearance of formula errors. The most notorious one being #DIV/0!. This error occurs when you attempt to divide a number by zero in a cell. The reason for this error is quite simple – division by zero is undefined in mathematics, and Excel faithfully reflects this principle by displaying the error.

Hidden Characters

Have you ever copied and pasted text into an Excel cell, only to find that it doesn’t look quite right? Hidden characters might be the culprit here. When you copy text from other sources such as a website or a PDF, it can contain hidden formatting characters that are not visible to the naked eye. Excel dutifully displays these characters, and they can sometimes cause formatting and display issues.

Conditional Formatting Oddities

Conditional formatting is a powerful feature in Excel that allows you to dynamically format cells based on specific criteria. However, it can sometimes behave unexpectedly. This can often be attributed to the order in which the rules are applied, as well as interactions between different rules. Excel shows the formatting as per the rules set by the user, but understanding the underlying logic can help troubleshoot any unexpected outcomes.

Graphing Glitches

Creating charts and graphs in Excel is a common task, but occasionally, the resulting visualizations may not match your expectations. This can happen due to various reasons, such as incomplete data selection, improper chart type choice, or formatting inconsistencies. Excel displays the graph based on the data and settings provided, so understanding these factors is key to resolving any discrepancies.


Excel’s behavior is a reflection of its commitment to accurately representing data and calculations. While some of its displays may seem perplexing at times, understanding the underlying technical reasons can help us navigate through these quirks more effectively.