Google Sheets Formula Parse Error – How To Fix

The analysis, categorization, and understanding of syntax can be broken down and compartmentalized by performing a parsing function. The process of parsing consists of a text analysis dissection, where the text is made up of a sequence of tokens, that determines its grammatical structure.

Google Sheets Formula Parse Error - How To Fix

The parser will then build a structure based on the data received. To simplify, parsing is just taking a larger structure and dividing it up into separate components for easier storage or manipulation.

At times it’s not uncommon to run a parse and wind up with an error. When a parsing error like this occurs, you’re prompted with a generated parse error to alert you that something may be off with your formula.

There are a few different reasons for a parse attempt to produce an error. A parse error may happen for any of the following reasons:

  • You’re attempting to parse data from a file that doesn’t exist.
  • There’s an error within the data you’re trying to parse. This can occur while downloading a file containing the parse data. If this is the case and downloading the file is what caused the parse error, you can try downloading the file an additional time or search for one that has been updated. You can also try downloading the file from a different site, if possible.
  • The file’s parsing data may not be compatible with the operating system or program being used. Make sure to check prior to downloading the file.
  • Permissions may be insufficient or those that enable you to access the file’s data have not yet been granted. Request the necessary permissions and if granted, attempt to parse the data again.
  • You lack the sufficient amount of disk space needed for the parse resulting in a parse error being generated. When writing a file to a hard drive or USB, ensure that the drive consists of enough space for the parsed data results. You may also choose to move the file being parsed or run it to your hard drive if it is a parse being run from removable media.

Parse Errors On Spreadsheet Formulas Like Google Sheets

If the spreadsheet formula has not been formatted correctly, then it is possible that it could generate a parse error.

This is often the case if the formula contains additional special characters or if the formula has been written incorrectly.

Generally, any syntax error within the formula will output a parse error,

The #DIV/0 Error

If you are unintentionally attempting to divide by 0, you will receive the #DIV/0 Error. Double-check your formulas and make sure you aren’t trying to divide anything by zero.

The #Error

In order to avoid the parse #ERROR! message, you’ll want to make sure that the formula is written correctly and fix any syntax errors that you find.

Make sure to thoroughly review the formula for any inaccuracies or mistakes in the formula itself.

The #ERROR! message is specifically unique to Google Sheets and what it means is that it cannot understand the formula that has been entered and therefore cannot execute the command to parse the data.

An example is if you manually type in a $ symbol when attempting to refer it as the dollar symbol, Google Sheets may alternatively think what you’re actually referring to is an absolute.

When wanting to show values using the currency symbols or as percentages, avoid typing them in manually as $ or %. Instead, what you’ll want to do is enter a plain number and then use the formatting options to change it to any particular style you need. The style approach will give you more consistently accurate results.

This is also the case if you’ve missed a “&” when stringing together text and numerical values.

What the formula should read as is: =“Total”&sum(A1:A6) which shows up as a Total21 (the numbers in A1-A6 added together).

Make sure that you’re using the correct join syntax in order to string together text and numerical values.

Additionally, it’s possible to receive a parse error when attempting to close out the brackets in a formula. One bracket too many or too few can cause complications during a data parsing. Extra brackets or too few brackets is one of the easiest mistakes to make. Luckily,  however, these sort of mistakes are some of the easiest to fix.

Ensure that the correct amount of brackets are being used and that they’re also being placed correctly.

There are many different functions within Google Sheets that can generate a parse error:

  • If
  • Sum
  • Query
  • Sparkline
  • Count
  • ImportRange

The #N/A Error

When the #N/A Error occurs, this usually means a referenced value doesn’t exist or was referenced incorrectly. Make sure that you’ve entered the correct cells and values.

The #NUM! Error

If you’re using a formula that contains invalid numbers, then you might see the #NUM! Error. This error can occur for several reasons, such as a value being beyond range, etc. Ensure that your formulas are correctly entered and that you aren’t trying to calculate values too large for Google Sheets to handle.

This is just a sample of some of the different functions within Google Sheets that can generate a parse error to name a few.

Avoid the complication and go over your formulas prior to parsing the data and correct any and all irregularities that you may find.

If you use Google Sheets and are seeking to become a better, more efficient spreadsheet user, you might want to check out these TechJunkie articles:

Do you have any tips or tricks on how on using Google Sheets more efficiently and more effectively? If so, please tell us about it in the comments below!

5 thoughts on “Google Sheets Formula Parse Error – How To Fix”

Claudiu says:
Try changing the locale from File>Spreadsheet Settings to UK or US, it should fix a valid formula with ‘Error’.
Alina says:
Hi David, did you manage to fix this problem? Facing the same issue
David G Chaudron says:
I have the opposite problem. I have a text field, and have formatted as plain text. As it’s an international phone number, I use +countrycode in front it. Sheets still marks it as a formula error
Grant says:
I was continually getting these errors in Google sheets despite adjusting formats, references, etc. What I found was I could replicate the error by typing =12×10 and I’d get a parse error. If I changed it to =12*10 it would work and I wouldn’t get the error. It’s the same with the ÷ vs the /. Oddly, the standard + & – signs work fine.
Greg says:
In computer programming, including Google Sheets formulae, computers use the following symbols for arithmetic operators: addition(+), subtraction(-), multiplication(*), division(/), exponent(^).

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