Understand and use cell references

Cell references

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Watch this video to learn the basics. When you use cell references in a formula, Excel calculates the answer using the numbers in the referenced cells. When you change the value in a cell, the formula calculates the new result automatically.

Create a cell reference on the same worksheet

  1. Click the cell in which you want to enter the formula.

  2. In the Formula Bar, type = (equal sign).

  3. Do one of the following:

    • Reference one or more cells    To create a reference, select a cell or range of cells on the same worksheet. Cell references and the borders around the corresponding cells are color-coded to make it easier to work with them.

      You can drag the border of the cell selection to move the selection, or drag the corner of the border to expand the selection.

    • Reference a defined name    To create a reference to a defined name, do one of the following:

      • Type the name.

      • Press F3, select the name in the Paste name box, and then click OK.

  4. Do one of the following:

    • If you are creating a reference in a single cell, press Enter.

    • If you are creating a reference in an array formula (such A1:G4), press Ctrl+Shift+Enter.

      The reference can be a single cell or a range of cells, and the array formula can be one that calculates single or multiple results.

Want more?

Create or change a cell reference

Use cell references in a formula

Create a reference to the same cell range on multiple worksheets

In Excel 2013, one of the key things that you’ll calculate are values in cells.

Cells are the boxes you see in the grid of an Excel worksheet, like this one.

Each cell is identified on a worksheet by its reference, the column letter and row number that intersect at the cell's location.

This cell is in column D and row 5, so it is cell D5. The column always comes first in a cell reference.

When you use cell references in a formula, in this case I am adding cells A2 and B2, Excel calculates the answer using the numbers in the referenced cells.

When I change the value in a cell, the formula calculates the new result automatically.

Instead of typing each individual cell in a formula, you can reference multiple adjacent cells, called a range of cells.

This range of cells is referred to as F2:G5. The first cell is F2 and the last cell is G5.

You always start a formula with an equals sign. I am using the SUM function in the formula to add this range of cells.

And there we have the sum, or total, for the range of cells.

Up next, Copying formulas.

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