How to Use Goal Seek in Microsoft Excel

In Brief...

If you know the result of a formula but not the value of a specific variable on which the formula depends, you can use Goal Seek to adjust the variable to display the desired value. Goal Seek can only adjust one variable in a formula, so if a formula depends on more than one variable, you will need to decide which variable to adjust.

This feature works the same in all modern versions of Microsoft Excel: 2010, 2013, and 2016.


  1. On the Data tab, in the Forecast group (the Data Tools group in Excel 2013), click the What-If-Analysis command.
    What-If-Analysis Command

  2. Click Goal Seek.
    Click Goal Seek

  3. In the Goal Seek dialog box:
    1. In the Set cell box, enter the cell for which you know the result (if you selected this cell before clicking Goal Seek, then it is already filled in).
    2. In the To value box, enter the value for the cell above.
    3. In the By changing cell box, enter the cell to adjust in order to obtain the value. (Remember, this cell must be related via a formula to the cell above or else changing one won't impact the other.)
    4. Click OK.
      Goal Seek Dialog Box

  4. In the Goal Seek Status dialog box, after the calculation has completed, click OK to accept the change or Cancel to reject it.
    Goal Seek Status Dialog Box

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Dave Dunn joined Webucator as Chief Operating Officer in early 2009. He has served as a CFO and COO for numerous small and medium-sized companies, including Summit Software Company, Insight Research Group, Avalon Consulting, and HealthcareOne. He has expertise in business development, financial management, marketing and human resources and particularly enjoys working with rapidly growing companies.

Dave received his Bachelor of Arts from Hamilton College and his MBA from Syracuse University. He has served as Chairman of the Board of the Montessori School of Syracuse since 2001.