Excel Breakout Puzzle 3

It is time for another Excel Breakout Puzzle! Excel Breakout Puzzle? Yes … they are totally fun 🙂 You have to use your Excel knowledge and skills to find the hidden code. I’ve hidden a 5 digit code in an Excel workbook, and if you are up for the challenge, see if you can find it.


Before I get to the puzzle, let me provide a quick background. The escape room trend is sweeping the globe. Here is the basic idea. You and some friends go to an escape room, and get locked inside. You have to look around the room and gather clues to figure out codes to various combination locks. Opening a lock provides access to additional clues, which provide additional codes, and so on. You ultimately figure out the final code used on the door lock to escape the room.

Excel Breakout Puzzles

My family LOVES doing these escape rooms together. They are so fun that I wanted to do something similar in my Excel courses. So, I came up with the idea for an Excel breakout puzzle. You basically need to open the Excel workbook, and look around for clues. You use your Excel skills to solve the puzzle and reveal the code.

These Excel breakout puzzles are used in the Excel University Graduate Certification program as a fun way to apply what you’ve learned in each lesson.

If you’d like to try to solve an Excel breakout puzzle, see if you can find the 5-digit code I’ve hidden in this Excel workbook:

Hope you have fun! And if you figure out the code, let me know by posting a comment below.


If you’d like to see the answer, just roll the video below.

Also, there may be comments below that show the code, so, if you want to try it first, don’t scroll this page down into the comments section.

Note: I’d recommend giving the Excel breakout puzzle a try BEFORE watching this video. The video gives the answer.


Previous breakout puzzles:

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This article was written by Jeff Lenning


  1. Col Delane

    Done in < 30 seconds!
    Not hard if you use a command (that surprisingly is not that well known as it is seldom discussed) from one of Excel's very useful features you'll find on the Data tab of the Ribbon (There's a clue in the instruction to Step 1) – but there is also at least one other much slower & round-about way to find the key from Step 1. (Hope I haven't given away too much!)

  2. Adrian

    Nice one, Jeff. Do you think we can have the protect workbook/sheet pass to see how it was done?

    1. Jeff Lenning Post author


  3. Jessica Ross


  4. Greg Taillon

    Google Sheets opens your puzzle with the invalid cells identified without doing anything.
    Still fun but not as challenging as your prior puzzles.

  5. Deon van Niekerk

    Nice one!
    Got it.
    The sum of the 5 digits making up the hidden code is 9 and includes a 0…


  6. Stacey

    Yeah! 13401

  7. Nico Mellett

    Awesome! Really well done 🙂

  8. Laurie

    I admit, I had to watch the video to get the solution to the 3rd breakout puzzle. Now I am stumped with the 1st and 2nd ones. I think I may have figured out the 2nd one, but am not sure. Is the answer to the 2nd puzzle 847?

  9. Greg Jimenez, CPA

    Nice Jeff, 13401, was fun:-)

  10. Jerry Falls, CPA


  11. Juliene Ehmig

    Fun! Thanks!

  12. Kathleen Quinn

    Thanks for the hint from Col! 13401

  13. Lola Simmons

    That was cool. Done in 15 seconds…13401

  14. Mario

    Great Puzzle to reinforce an excel concept. Thanks!

  15. Dave Potts

    Well, I didn’t do anything sophisticated. I just looked at the values in the cells of the top row on Sheet 2 and used the four that weren’t there (1,2,6,7). No Excel skills needed.

    1. Jeff Lenning Post author

      Dave … wow, I try hard to close up any loopholes like the one you found, but, you hacked me, nice! The way I hoped it would work is that on Step 1, you use the Circle Invalid Data command from the Data Validation menu to identify the key. Then, enter the key into Step 2. But, there are usually multiple ways to accomplish anything in Excel, and I see this breakout puzzle is no exception 🙂

  16. Jeri Mael

    Well done!

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