Using Absolute Cell References in Excel

In: BlogDate: Mar 23, 2017By: Jonny Reynolds

Absolute Cell References are one of those jargon words we hear used about Excel formulas all the time.

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You may be asked if you’re familiar with Absolute Cell References before attending some of our Excel courses at Happy, or you may have asked for help with a formula and been told “you need to Absolute that cell!”

So what are absolute cell references?

In simple terms, they are cell references that don’t change.

Why do cell references change? Auto fill is the usual culprit.


In this example, we created a formula in cell C2 and auto-filled it down to C6. At first glance, everything looks okay, but the answers in cells C3:C6 are wrong.

A quick check of the formula shows that when the formula was auto filled down, the E2 cell reference changed:


The E2 cell reference needs to be used in all of the formulas.

The fix

All we need to do is to Absolute, or fix, the E3 cell reference

  1. Click on the cell containing the formula you wish to change.
  2. Click next to the formula on the Formula bar.
  3. Move the cursor so that it sits next to the cell reference you wish to make absolute.
  4. Press F4 on the keyboard, Dollar signs will appear around the cell reference.
  5. Press Enter.

If we check out the formulas now, you’ll see that not only have the dollar signs appeared around the E3 cell reference, but when we filled the formula down the $E$3 cell reference is now used in every formula and we have the correct answers!

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5 out of 5 stars

Just the info I needed, great

Emma Morgan61 days ago

Jonny Reynolds

Jonny worked at Happy for over 11 years, starting as Operations Manager and working his way up to Business Stream Manager.

More by Jonny

Want to learn more?

Absolute Cell References are covered in our Core Level 1 course, and it’s essential that you are confident with this before you attend our Excel Core Level 2 course.

If you are comfortable with Absolute Cell References following this video, check out our Excel Core Level 2 course.

If you are a total beginner to Excel and using formulas, our Core Level 1 course will be more suitable for you. This covers all the basics, including saving and opening a spreadsheet, filtering data, and using basic charts and graphs.

You can also join our Happy Video Library for just £40 per year to view hundreds of time saving two minute tips – contact us for details of group rates for organisations.

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  • Using Absolute Cell References – prefer a video? Watch how to do this in our two-minute video
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  • Calculating Age – learn how to calculate dates in your Excel spreadsheets to work out an anniversary or when a task is due using DATEDIF or YEAR formulas