Semicolon as formula separator

Excel now using semicolons (;) instead of commas (,) in separating formulas? Fix it. Now!

Comma as formula separator
Comma as formula separator (whaat?)
Semicolon as formula separator
Semicolon as formula separator (whaat?)

You may have wondered why suddenly Microsoft Excel is using semicolons (;) instead of commas (,) in separating your Excel formulas. I also experienced that and as a user that usually use commas in separating Excel formulas, this is quite annoying.

But fear not! We have a solution for that.

Now according to my research, this problem exists because of a certain language setting. Since I am a super lazy kid, I did not bother trying to find the exact solution over the internet. I tried to find it on my own using the single clue I got over the inter-webs, the “Language Settings”.

However, I won’t be giving you a hard time to solve this one so I’ll just give you the exact instructions (Yay!).

Just a note though. I am currently running Windows 8.1 10.

The exact step by step instructions might be different in other Windows platform but in the end you’ll just have to tinker with your Language settings.

The shortcut

To cut the story short, you’ll have to change the setting List Separator in the Language Settings (seem pretty simple — and legit).

For those who want to have the step by step instructions, read on (ughh).

The long-cut?

So you still want to continue this 99 pager post? (whaaat? asdfghjkl!). Nah. I’m just joking. Anyway, in addition to the step by step instructions, I prepared screenshots to keep you interested. Remember, this tutorial was done in Windows 10.

  • In order to find the List Separator settings, head to your Start Menu and type Language.
Start Menu - Language Control
Start Menu – Language Control
  • In the Language Control Panel, click Change date, time, or number formats.
Language Control Panel - Language Preferences
Language Control Panel – Language Preferences
  • After clicking the Change date, time, or number formats link, a the new window will appear. Click Additional Options.
Language Control Panel Window - Region Settings Date Time and Number Formats
Language Control Panel Window – Region Settings Date Time and Number Formats
  • After another a new Window appears (seriously, there are so many Windows going on!), go to the List Separator section and input comma (,) or any symbol that you want.
Language Control Panel Window - Region Settings Additional Options
Language Control Panel Window – Region Settings Additional Options
  • Of course after changing the list separator, don’t forget to click Apply!

After applying the changes, you will immediately notice that Excel will now use comma (or any symbol that you inputted in the list separator) in your formula bars.

That’s it folks!

And that’s it! You’ve just learned how to fix you’re problems with semicolons or commas. Cheers!

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17 thoughts on “Excel now using semicolons (;) instead of commas (,) in separating formulas? Fix it. Now!

  1. Thanks for the description of the fix. I was going mad when my formulae were giving error messages. I felt like a novice when I had to resort to the insert function wizard to write formulae I have been using for more than 25 years.
    Would be useful to know why this had a strange default. Is the list separator used elsewhere?

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  2. It’s the same on the mac, and it was driving me crazy. Can’t find the setting on Mac OSX though. But at least I know why formulas weren’t working…

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  3. Problem might be related to that commas are used within the code of programs and macros, basically everywhere on programming. Maybe it started to give some significant problems or maybe support tickets. Just guessing. From “safe-for-using” point of view, semicolons are much safer in my opinion.
    BTW, your fix unfortunately does not change behavior of Excel 2016 and Windows 10 PL. Comma set as a list delimiter but Excel still wants semicolons 😦

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    • Milosh, I’ve got the same problem but windows 7 PL and Excel 2016 but I found the solution. You have to also change decimals from semicolons to eg. period. There is some kind of conflict if you use commas for both decimals and list separator.
      I hope it will help

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  4. I use comma (,) also as decimal symbol, so when i use comma as list separator and decimal symbol at the same time, excel keep using (;) as list separator. Is there a way to have leave both of them as comma?

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    • Hi Shade, I believe when you save something as a CSV, you have the ability to select your own delimiter for it such as comma, semicolons etc. I think this post has nothing to do with csv files since it modifies the formula separator in excel.

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