There is an idiot light in Excel that often times needs to be shut off if you want to keep your sanity and keep your spreadsheets looking sharp.


The evil little critter looks like a paint brush and shows up hovering slightly over the edge of a cell’s corner.  It is supposed to tell you that the cell in question does not have the same formula as a cell next to it.

That is great if you have a massive spreadsheet of heavily repeating formulas.

However, when you have a spread sheet where the cells formulas are very different from cell to cell it gets in the way and becomes tedious to deal with, especially if you need to click into a cell obscured by this paint brush.

Plus, when it comes time to offer up your spreadsheet in a presentation or report, having a bunch of paint brushes in the document can infer to the people receiving your report that you have errors where none really exist.  This is bad for conveying confidence in your numbers and results and I advise that you turn this little whiz bang off in your spread sheet before you send it out.

Of course, the people that receive the spreadsheet may have it on and there isn’t much you can do about that unless you put the spreadsheet into a pdf or something.

Here is how you can shut the paintbrush error / idiot light off in Excel!

Go to Tools in the menu, Select Options, then uncheck the box that says

Inconsistent formula in region

Then hit ok and click on a cell somewhere in the spreadsheet and it should be gone, until you reactivate it.