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Formula Bar Has a New Look

19 August 2023

If you’re like us, you probably have a lot of your working life with your head immersed in formulae.  These pesky little critters are the backbone of any spreadsheet, and they allow you to perform calculations, analyse data, build financial models, forecast key variables and create dynamic reports.  However, no matter how experienced you (think you) are, writing and editing formulae can sometimes be challenging, especially if you have complex or nested expressions – which you shouldn’t because you should follow the “Rule of Thumb”, viz. 

No formula should be longer than your thumb!

To this end, Microsoft has announced a change that should make your formula editing experience easier and more straightforward: the use of the Monospaced font in the Formula bar.  The Monospaced font is a type of font where each character has the same width, regardless of its shape or style.  This means that your formulae will align and space evenly, making them easier to read and debug.

Monospaced font, also known as fixed-width or typewriter font, has several advantages over a proportional font.  Here are some of the benefits of using monospaced font in the Formula bar:

  • Alignment and Readability: Monospaced fonts significantly improve the readability of code by ensuring consistent and clear alignment.  Each character occupies the same amount of space horizontally, which makes it easier to maintain an organised, structured and consistent layout.  This is particularly helpful for indentation and presenting a clean image
  • Error Detection and Visual Parsing: Monospaced fonts offer consistent alignment, making it easier to quickly spot errors, typos and discrepancies in code.  This uniform spacing enhances visual parsing of complex structures, aiding in identifying patterns, nested levels and relationships within the logic.  This is particularly valuable for understanding intricate nested or conditional statements and catching mistakes early in the authoring process
  • Cross-Platform Consistency: Monospaced fonts offer streamlined copy-pasting of code from different sources while maintaining formatting.  They also ensure a uniform appearance across various platforms and editors, ensuring consistent readability and structure.

To use the Monospaced font in the Formula bar, simply edit or author a formula in the Formula bar.  You should notice a different rendering of your formula text.  Here is an example of a before and after of some formula text:

You can see how by the time we get to the first “m” in the formula, the letters are not consistently centred in 10px width boxes in the “Before” image.

Monospaced Font is currently available to users running Beta Channel on Windows.  This feature will roll out to Excel for Windows first and come to the other platforms later.