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3.5.8 Editing and debugging formulas

You can edit individual formulas in the minibuffer or directly in the field. Org can also prepare a special buffer with all active formulas of a table. When offering a formula for editing, Org converts references to the standard format (like ‘B3’ or ‘D&’) if possible. If you prefer to only work with the internal format (like ‘@3$2’ or ‘$4’), configure the variable org-table-use-standard-references.

C-c = or C-u C-c = (org-table-eval-formula)

Edit the formula associated with the current column/field in the minibuffer. See Column formulas, and Field and range formulas.

C-u C-u C-c = (org-table-eval-formula)

Re-insert the active formula (either a field formula, or a column formula) into the current field, so that you can edit it directly in the field. The advantage over editing in the minibuffer is that you can use the command C-c ?.

C-c ? (org-table-field-info)

While editing a formula in a table field, highlight the field(s) referenced by the reference at point position in the formula.

C-c } (org-table-toggle-coordinate-overlays)

Toggle the display of row and column numbers for a table, using overlays. These are updated each time the table is aligned; you can force it with C-c C-c.

C-c { (org-table-toggle-formula-debugger)

Toggle the formula debugger on and off. See below.

C-c ' (org-table-edit-formulas)

Edit all formulas for the current table in a special buffer, where the formulas are displayed one per line. If the current field has an active formula, point in the formula editor marks it. While inside the special buffer, Org automatically highlights any field or range reference at point position. You may edit, remove and add formulas, and use the following commands:

C-c C-c or C-x C-s (org-table-fedit-finish)

Exit the formula editor and store the modified formulas. With C-u prefix, also apply the new formulas to the entire table.

C-c C-q (org-table-fedit-abort)

Exit the formula editor without installing changes.

C-c C-r (org-table-fedit-toggle-ref-type)

Toggle all references in the formula editor between standard (like ‘B3’) and internal (like ‘@3$2’).

TAB (org-table-fedit-lisp-indent)

Pretty-print or indent Lisp formula at point. When in a line containing a Lisp formula, format the formula according to Emacs Lisp rules. Another TAB collapses the formula back again. In the open formula, TAB re-indents just like in Emacs Lisp mode.

M-TAB (lisp-complete-symbol)

Complete Lisp symbols, just like in Emacs Lisp mode.


Shift the reference at point. For example, if the reference is ‘B3’ and you press S-RIGHT, it becomes ‘C3’. This also works for relative references and for hline references.

M-S-UP (org-table-fedit-line-up)

Move the test line for column formulas up in the Org buffer.

M-S-DOWN (org-table-fedit-line-down)

Move the test line for column formulas down in the Org buffer.

M-UP (org-table-fedit-scroll-up)

Scroll up the window displaying the table.

M-DOWN (org-table-fedit-scroll-down)

Scroll down the window displaying the table.

C-c }

Turn the coordinate grid in the table on and off.

Making a table field blank does not remove the formula associated with the field, because that is stored in a different line—the ‘TBLFM’ keyword line. During the next recalculation, the field will be filled again. To remove a formula from a field, you have to give an empty reply when prompted for the formula, or to edit the ‘TBLFM’ keyword.

You may edit the ‘TBLFM’ keyword directly and re-apply the changed equations with C-c C-c in that line or with the normal recalculation commands in the table.

Using multiple ‘TBLFM’ lines

You may apply the formula temporarily. This is useful when you want to switch the formula applied to the table. Place multiple ‘TBLFM’ keywords right after the table, and then press C-c C-c on the formula to apply. Here is an example:

| x | y |
| 1 | |
| 2 | |
#+TBLFM: $2=$1*1
#+TBLFM: $2=$1*2

Pressing C-c C-c in the line of ‘#+TBLFM: $2=$1*2’ yields:

| x | y |
| 1 | 2 |
| 2 | 4 |
#+TBLFM: $2=$1*1
#+TBLFM: $2=$1*2

If you recalculate this table, with C-u C-c *, for example, you get the following result from applying only the first ‘TBLFM’ keyword.

| x | y |
| 1 | 1 |
| 2 | 2 |
#+TBLFM: $2=$1*1
#+TBLFM: $2=$1*2

Debugging formulas

When the evaluation of a formula leads to an error, the field content becomes the string ‘#ERROR’. If you would like to see what is going on during variable substitution and calculation in order to find a bug, turn on formula debugging in the Tbl menu and repeat the calculation, for example by pressing C-u C-u C-c = RET in a field. Detailed information are displayed.