How to use Goal Seek in Excel

Goal Seek is a feature in Microsoft Excel that allows you to find the input value that results in a desired output value. In this lesson you can learn how to use Goal Seek tool in Excel.

Data preparation

Goal Seek lets you find the right value for the expected result. The result is based on the formula from one of the cells in a worksheet. To seek the goal, you need a data (as in the example below).

Goal Seek Data

In the example, you know price and budget. You want to check, how many pieces you can buy. In this example, price is $230 and your budget is $1 000 000. How many pieces you can afford? Select the cell with the formula (that calculates the result) to be set by Excel for the expected value. In the above example it is a cell with your budget.


What-if Analysis

Go to Data tab in the Ribbon and select What-If Analysis button. Next click Goal Seek from the list.

Goal Seek Ribbon

Excel marked cell which the result is set as a result of the planned analysis. In this example this is a value of $1,000,000. In the Value field, enter the planned value of 1000000. By changing cell field, you should choose cell with count of pieces. In this example it is a C3 cell.

Goal Seek

After clicking OK, a new dialog box appears. It is status of Goal Seek. Excel asks you if everything is ok. If not, click Cancel and nothing will change in your table. In this example the result is correct so click OK.

Goal Seek Status

The result is 4 347 pieces. That how many pieces you can afford.

Goal Seek Result

As you see, Goal Seek is a very easy way to calculate results. Try to learn for your own with more difficult examples.

Keep in mind that the input value that Goal Seek finds is only an estimate, so you may need to perform the process multiple times to find an accurate result.

Further reading: 
Basic concepts 
What-If Analysis
Chart with a goal line