Changing Font Size of Just the Formula Bar

April 25th, 2011 by datapig Leave a reply »

I just got back from a whirlwind week of live training events. The most exciting one was the live Xcelsius training we did in Miami. We had a blast, as we always do at our live events. I was on my game - of course – and everyone walked away with coffers full of new techniques.


During my live training events, I have gotten into the habit of using a trick I learned from John (a Senior VP at Ernst &Young) a few months ago.

With this trick, I can increase the font of just the Formula bar. Like this:


This technique has proven to be extremely useful in live training scenarios where students in the back of the room struggle to see the formulas that are thrown up on the screen.

Here, I can make the Font size huge so all the students can see.


I know what you're thinking: "Why isn't the rest of the workbook huge too (i.e. column references, row references). Well the secret is if you increase the workbook font properties, then open an already existing workbook, only the formula bar actually takes on the new font properties.


Try it yourself.

In Excel, open up the Excel options and go to the section called 'When creating new workbooks'.

Then change the Font size to any size you'd like.

Now press the OK button and close out Excel.


The next time you open Excel, everything will be BIG.


However…….If you open an Excel document that was created and saved in normal size, only the formula bar is big.



Now…. I personally wouldn't use this trick in my everyday work. Constantly changing font sizes in my Excel workbooks seems silly.

However, when I put on my live training events, I use this trick all the time. It's my way of giving back to the sight-challenged Excel analyst community.


Apart from the accidental functionality I've found in this strange glitch in Workbook Font sizing, this behavior in Excel does feel a bit like a bug. One would think the formula bar would remain normal size (like the other interface components) when opening up an exisitng workbook. Instead, the Formula bar is the only interface component that takes on the new Workbook font properties.


Bug or not, I've adopted this freakish behavior as my trick.



  1. Rich says:

    Is this just a 2007 trick or is there a way to do this in 2003?

  2. Erin says:

    Yes, it works in Excel 2003.

    Go to Tools/Options and select the General tab. On the right about halfway down there are two dropdowns: one for font and a second for size.

    Make your selections and then close and restart Excel.

  3. sam says:

    “It’s my way of giving back to the sight-challenged Excel analyst community”

    MS already took care of them in 2007/2010 – why else do you think that the size of the Paste button increased by almost 2.5 times compared to the earlier versions.

    MS also catered to the mentally challenged users – by spelling out the Paste button – so that users would not confuse it with the Copy button ….

  4. Lynda says:

    RE: “MS already took care of (the sight-challenged Excel analyst community)”

    Only fair, since it’s their fault I became sight-challenged in the 1st place!

    Nice tip – that’s going to come in handy

  5. SteveT says:

    Awesome trick!! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Mark says:

    “Senior VP at Ernst & Young”? You might want to check with your friend John. We don’t have VPs or SVPs here.

    Cool trick nonetheless though.

  7. Herb Warren says:

    Great trick. I will definately use this in the classroom

  8. Eilis says:

    Great!!!! Thank you so much for the tip :)

  9. Nan Todd says:

    This is great! We just went to windows 7 in our office and everything – including the formula bar – seems too small to read comfortably – now I can finally see it!

  10. John Durkee says:

    Do you know if this can be done in WordPerfect — increasing the font size of the table formula bar?
    Thanks for anything you care to contribute!

  11. Peter Casey says:

    I created a video about changing the font size of the formula bar and still having normal size row and column headings and normal cell font size.

    I might improve the technique with the hint of both a book template and a sheet template.

  12. Idit says:

    Yey! great! I don’t have to squint now!!

  13. Hem says:

    thanks ….. U

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