Excel: What Do All the Triangles Mean?

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Problem: In "œFind Text Entries," you described the green triangles. What are the red triangles and purple triangles that sometimes appear in my worksheets?

Strategy: Each color of triangle serves a different purpose.

The red triangles in the top-right corners of cells are comment indicators. Where you see one of these, someone used Review, New Comment to add a bit of explanatory text to a cell. If you hover over a red indicator, Excel will display the comment, as shown below. If the red indicators are bothering you, use File, Options, Advanced, Display, For Cells with Comment, Show No Comments or Indicators. For more information, see "œLeave Helpful Notes with Cell Comments" on page 545.

  1. Red triangles are cell comments.

    The green triangle appears in the top left of a cell. This indicator appears whenever Excel thinks you might have made an error. This figure shows the complete list of errors. You can control which errors are flagged by selecting File, Options, Formulas, Error Checking.

  2. You can choose which errors Excel should mark.

    Additional Details: Errors are usually flagged with green triangles, but as you can see above, you can change the color used to flag errors. The indicator will always appear in the top left of the cell; you cannot change its position.

    Back in Excel 2007, financial symbols would often have a purple triangle in the lower-right corner of the cell. If you open that icon, Excel would offer to insert a stock price in an adjacent cell. The downside to this was that many text values such as TRUE or COST would get a purple triangle when the cell had nothing to do with a stock symbol.

    If you still want this functionality in Excel 2010, follow these steps:

    1. Type Alt+T+A to display the AutoCorrect dialog.
    2. Choose the Actions tab.
    3. Choose Enable Additional Actions In the Right-Click Menu.
    4. Click OK.

  3. You have to turn the old SmartTags on.

    When you choose a cell with a financial symbol, right-click the cell. From the bottom of the dropdown, choose Additional Cell Actions.

    The actions available for a date now include checking your calendar in Outlook.

  4. Check your calendar in Office 2010 by right-clicking a date.