Do not cancel old possibilities
In any cell of Excel 1995, 2003, 2007:
= 431+"explanation 1"-1+"explanation 2"
In Office 365 (Excel 2016):
Pressing ENTER results in #VALUE!
Althought I sill can use my old spreadsheets I cannot create new ones using this now considered outdate possibility and this is a very serious limitation in my view.
Found another workaround for the decades until Excel does this. Fairly clever, the fellow used an AND() to hold his formula bit and also to hold his comment making sure to test the comment in a way he could be sure would come out true so it had no actual effect, only the true/false from the formula bit would matter as the comment half would always return true to AND().
And basic example:
=IF( AND( A1>=600, ISBLANK( "A1 holds the balance due on the loan. This formula checks that the balance is higher than the regular monthly payment. If not, it returns the formula for payoff result." ) = TRUE ), A30, C30 )
and one can use Alt-Enter to make that appear on separate lines in the formula editor:
=IF( AND( A1>=600, ISBLANK(
"A1 holds the balance due on the loan. This formula checks that the balance is higher than the regular monthly payment. If not, it returns the formula for payoff result."
) = TRUE ), A30, C30 )
so that the comment stands out. You can do that with the approach below too.
If it is of any assistance, you can wrap those text portions, EXACTLY as they are right now, do not drop the double quotes, in the N() function.
So it would read:
= 431 + N("explanation 1") - 1 + N("explanation 2")
The N() function has been used since, oh, Shakespeare's day for this purpose (that of sort of commenting inside a formula).
That won't help you convert directly, though one can use some, or a lot of, typing to convert formulas you'd hate to have lose their functionality.
Another approach would use FORMULATEXT() to get them into strings, then standard text manipulation to locate where the double quotes are and insert the N( and the ) strings as appropriate, or break them into cells with Data to Columns and recombine via concatenation, or insert the needed characters, then use TEXTJOIN().
Still probably hand done, so tedious, and not overly amenable to a macro. But it would give you a way to keep the functionality and probably see it last.
Another way might be to check into Google's offering. I do not know but it might handle them as is so you'd have immediate functionality back while you consider what to get after and what to let die a sorry, unnecessary, death. Or to have use of while getting after it in a different way, rewriting the spreadsheets. One might, for instance, use them with Google while editing to put either the whole formula (probably easiest) into a Comment for each cell to keep the comments, then editing them out of the cell's themselves. Or one might one-step it extracting the comments into current Comment functionality leaving the formulas workable in the single edit. Or just edit them away, just Find and Replace ("*") wiping them all out, though I get the sense you don't want to do that!!!
Good luck. Oh, you can always change over to using Excel for a rough database and writing those oh-so-wonderful PowerApps, paying their subscription pricing, overbuying licenses, and entering the future (the MS makes 10x the money for the same functionality future, that is). Watch Bill Gates (find it on YouTube) impress us about how benevolent monopolies are and how good they are for the advancement of mankind. You won't mind paying $300 a month for a few people to have the same abilities $50 a month used to buy... and you'll understand MS is just leading us into the future! It's the future and it's oh-so-bright!
For the monopolies anyway.