The most basic tool is error messages. Error messages display in a formula’s cell or in the Function Wizard instead of the result.
An error message for a formula is usually a three-digit number from 501 to 527, or sometimes an unhelpful piece of text such as NAME?, REF, or VALUE. The error number appears in the cell, and a brief explanation of the error on the right side of the status bar.
Most error messages indicate a problem with how the formula was input, although several indicate that you have run up against a limitation of either Calc or its current settings.
Error messages are not user-friendly, and may intimidate new users. All the same, they are valuable clues to correcting mistakes. You can find detailed explanations of them in the help, by searching for Error codes in OpenOffice.org Calc. A few of the most common are:
- NAME? (525): No valid reference exists for the argument.
- REF (525): The column, row, or sheet for the referenced cell is missing.
- VALUE (519): The value for one of the arguments is not the type that the argument requires. The value may be entered incorrectly; for example, double-quotation marks may be missing around the value. At other times, a cell or range used may have the wrong format, such as text instead of numbers.
- 509: An operator such as an equals sign is missing from the formula.
- 510: An argument is missing from the formula.
- 502: The column, row, or sheet for the referenced cell is missing.