Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Error Messages
A P P E N D I X C
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Error Messages
Nobody’s Perfect
To err is human, but most duly certified members of our species have a vested interest in setting their
errors right, particular because other humans (bosses, for example) are likely to be rather displeased if
they don’t. And make no mistake - it’s nearly a law of nature that in the course of your Excel activity you
will make mistakes. Take it from the party of the first part.
Needless to say, Excel is well aware of the near inevitable, and equips its users with a range of tools
and informational alerts that try and pinpoint errors and help turn them into usable data.
Now, there are errors and then there are errors , and the ways in which Excel responds to these will
vary. In that regard, there are at least three kinds of errors we need to consider:
1.
Simple data entry errors : If, for example, Johnny scores a 92 on his history exam
but his careless instructor enters 29 in her Excel-based gradebook, there’s
nothing Excel can do about it, at least not directly. It will be left to the instructor
to devise a data validation rule or an IF statement that might be able to
anticipate and repair this kind of misstep. By the same token, if you want to cite
cell A16 in a formula but type A17, Excel won’t stop you either. As capable as it
is, Excel can’t read your mind.
2.
Formula-blocking errors: By this I’m referring to a class of mistakes which
violate the rules of formula writing. Commit one of these and Excel prevents
you from going ahead until you rectify the mistake. For example, if I enter
=COUNTA23:A49)
you’ll provoke this caution (Figure C–1):
Figure C–1. You can’t get there from here
 
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