Excel Hints & Tips - The OFFSET Function

In: BlogDate: Feb 13, 2013By: Darren Andrews

How do I set my spread-sheet to automatically extract this month’s figure from the accounts?

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Let us assume the spread-sheet uses the standard accounts layout of figures for each month, so 12 columns of figures in all, for January to December. You want to indicate the current month with a number (1 for January, 2 for February etc) and have this month’s figure automatically displayed separately.

One approach is to use a very complicated IF statement:

IF(P1=1,C4,if(P1=2,D4,if(P1=3,E4 … and so on up to P1=12

However this is long-winded and complex and therefore invites errors. Our rule of thumb is if you get to three levels of Ifs, there is probably a simpler way to do it. And in this case there is a much simpler way.

The OFFSET Function

OFFSET is a neat little function which allows you to say, from any cell go 3 to the right and 4 down – or, better, use cell references. So to extract this month’s accounts:

=OFFSET(B4,0,P$1)

P1 is the number of the month. B4 is the column before the financial data starts, and the 0 indicates you don’t want to move down a row. So it will take the value of C4 when when P1 is 1, D4 when P1 is 2 and so on.

 

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Darren is one of Happy's Senior Trainers, able to train almost every IT course on our course programme. He worked for Happy for 12 years and has been an Associate Trainer since 2018.

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