I faced with issue that sometimes when I created custom formula-fields on Salesforce objects I couldn't save it, the reason of it was limitation in 5000 characters for such type of field.
The main trouble is that when I copied content of formula to any notepad which can calculate number of characters I saw, that there was less than 5000 characters. After some investigations I found that mentions of other formula-fields and also some methods, like TODAY(), can implicitly increase number of characters. In this way the real length will be more than number of character that you type.
My question - how can I see the real amount of formula-field characters and how to know which parts of formula adds extra-amount?