How to use Goal Seek in Excel

In high school...

...I used to solve mathematical equations...

...where I have the result of the equation...

..but don’t have the input value.

So, if you think about to solve the same kind of problems in Excel, you have a specific tool which can help you.

Goal Seek

Its basic idea is to find the input value which a formula needs to get that result.

In simple words, if you know what actual result value you want, you can use goal seek to find the best input value for getting it.

For example:

Let’s say you need to borrow some money from your friend.

You know how much money you need, how long you want to take to pay off the loan, and how much you can pay each month.

You can use goal seek to calculate the interest rate you will need to secure with your friend.

There is n number of complex problems which you can solve with goal seek.

So today, in this post, you’ll learn how to use goal seek in Excel, how it works and what are the important points you need to take care.

Let's get started.

How to Open Goal Seek

To open goal seek use one of these two methods.

  • Go to Data Tab → What If Analysis → Goal Seek.
open goal seek in excel
  • Use the shortcut key Alt + T + G.

You can use these methods to activate goal seek in Microsoft Excel 2007 to 2016 versions.

Components of Goal Seek Function

When you open goal seek, you’ll get a small pop-up to input data. Basically, it has three required components.

goal seek in excel a small pop up window
  1. Set Cell: Cell in which you want the desired result. Make sure, the cell you are referring here has a formula in it.
  2. To Value: Value you want as a result.
  3. By Changing Cell: Cell in which you want alteration to come up with the result equals to the “To Value”. Make sure, the cell you are referring here is used in the formula in the cell which is referred in “Set Cell”.

Solving a Problem in Excel with Goal Seek

Imagine you’re working in a company who is trying to get a tender order through quoting the lowest price.

For this, you need to prepare a price structure in which your landing price (to the customer) should be $1000.

Whereas your present final price is $1089.9.

product price structure for using goal seek in excel
using goal seek in excel to calculate new final price
  • Now, you need to input following values.
    1. Click on the “Set Value” and refer it to the cell having landing price.
    2. Click on the “To Value” and enter the value you want as a result, in the cell having landing price.
    3. In the end, click on the “By Changing Cell” and refer it to the cell having base price.
specify values to use goal seek in excel
  • Click OK.
  • Goal seek will do something like this with your spreadsheet.
using goal seek in excel to calculate the lading price

How does it work

Now, if you check base price cell, it values is changed to $925 and with this, your landing price is changed to $1000.

Your base has changed by goal seek using a hit and trial method. But, goal seek is pretty quick in this and you can’t see the entire process.

Important Points about Goal Seek

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Now tell me one thing. Do you have any complex calculation to solve with goal seek? Please share with me in the comment section, I’d love to hear from you.

And, please don’t forget to share this tip with your friends.

About the Author

Puneet Gogia

Puneet is using Excel since his college days. He helped thousands of people to understand the power of the spreadsheets and learn Microsoft Excel. You can find him online, tweeting about Excel, on a running track, or sometimes hiking up a mountain.

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  1. Hi brother, I want to run the macro for a range i.e. B5:D10 by changing the cell range B15:D20. Can you please help me to get the VBA to execute properly?
    Thanks in advance.

  2. Hi, I want to make a Timezone convertor so that I can get time difference with a single click, There are multiple timezone convertors on Google, however I want to understand the process where I can create it myself, can some one help!!

  3. And how can I use goal seek function for multiple worksheets with the same columns in them?

      • Can you please show me any example of this VBA? E.g. I have “January”, “February”, “March”, … , “December” worksheets and I want to find, let’s say, effective rate that was applied to the materials purchashed and listed in 2-150 rows. How should VBA look like in this case?