Absolute cell reference is an essential concept in the world of spreadsheet computing. It refers to a way of referencing cells in a spreadsheet that does not change regardless of where the formula is copied or moved. If you are working with Excel or Google Sheets, you need to master how to use absolute cell reference effectively.
In this article, we will explore what absolute cell reference is, how to use it in Excel and Google Sheets, and provide code examples that will help you understand and apply this concept in your work.
Understanding Absolute Cell Reference
When you create a formula in a spreadsheet, you need to reference cells to provide data for the formula. By default, when you copy or move the formula, the cell references change accordingly. That is, if you copied a formula from cell A1 to cell B1, any cell reference in the formula that referenced cell A1 would be changed to reference cell B1.
Absolute cell reference allows you to fix a cell reference so that it does not change when you copy or move the formula. It is denoted by a dollar sign ($) before the column letter and row number, like $A$1. The dollar sign tells Excel or Google Sheets that the column and row references in the formula must remain the same, regardless of where the formula is copied or moved.
Using Absolute Cell Reference in Excel
Using absolute cell reference in Excel is straightforward. Here is an example that demonstrates how to use absolute cell reference when writing a formula:
Suppose we have a table that shows the quantity and price of items sold, and we want to calculate the total revenue generated. We can create a formula that multiplies the quantity sold by the price per item and sums it up for all items in the table.
The formula to calculate the total revenue is:
=SUMPRODUCT(B2:B7,$C$2:$C$7)
In this formula, we have used absolute cell reference for the column C. This means that regardless of where the formula is copied or moved, it will always reference the price column.
Using Absolute Cell Reference in Google Sheets
Using absolute cell reference in Google Sheets is similar to using it in Excel. Here is an example that demonstrates how to use absolute cell reference when writing a formula:
Suppose we have a table that shows the ratings given by different users to various products. We want to calculate the average rating for each product in the table. We can create a formula that divides the sum of all ratings for a product by the number of users who rated that product.
The formula to calculate the average rating is:
=SUMIF(B2:B7,E2,C2:C7)/COUNTIF(B2:B7,E2)
In this formula, we have used absolute cell reference for the cell E2. This means that regardless of where the formula is copied or moved, it will always reference the product name in cell E2.
Code Examples
Now that we have seen how to use absolute cell reference in Excel and Google Sheets, let's look at some code examples that demonstrate how to apply this concept in practice.
Excel Example:
Suppose we have a table that shows the sales of different products in multiple regions. We want to create a pivot table that shows the total sales for each product across regions. We can use the following VBA code to create the pivot table:
Sub CreatePivotTable()
Dim objTable As PivotTable
Dim objField As PivotField
'Create pivot cache from table data
Set objTable = ActiveWorkbook.PivotTableWizard( _
SourceType:=xlDatabase, _
SourceData:=ActiveSheet.Range("$A$1:$E$21"), _
TableDestination:=ActiveSheet.Cells(1, 8))
'Add fields to pivot table
Set objField = objTable.PivotFields("Product")
objField.Orientation = xlRowField
objField.Position = 1
Set objField = objTable.PivotFields("Region")
objField.Orientation = xlColumnField
objField.Position = 1
Set objField = objTable.PivotFields("Sales")
objField.Orientation = xlDataField
End Sub
In this code, we have used absolute cell reference for the range of the table data. This means that regardless of where the data is located in the spreadsheet, the pivot cache will always reference the correct range of cells.
Google Sheets Example:
Suppose we have a table that shows the sales of different products in multiple regions. We want to create a pivot table that shows the total sales for each product across regions. We can use the following Apps Script code to create the pivot table:
function createPivotTable() {
var sheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSheet();
var dataRange = sheet.getDataRange();
//Create pivot table object
var pivotTable = sheet.newPivotTable()
.setValuesColumnGroup(2)
.setValuesAggregation(SpreadsheetApp.PivotTableSummarizeFunction.SUM, 3)
.setColumns([1])
.setRows([0])
.build();
//Set the range of the table data
pivotTable.setSourceData(dataRange);
}
In this code, we have used absolute cell reference for the range of the table data. This means that regardless of where the data is located in the spreadsheet, the pivot table will always reference the correct range of cells.
Conclusion
Absolute cell reference is a powerful feature that allows you to fix a cell reference so it does not change when you copy or move a formula. It is an essential concept that every spreadsheet user should master. In this article, we have explored what absolute cell reference is, how to use it in Excel and Google Sheets, and provided code examples that demonstrate how to apply this concept in practice. Use these examples to hone your skills and improve your productivity when working with spreadsheets.
let me elaborate more on some of the topics covered in the article.
Understanding Absolute Cell Reference
Absolute cell reference is a fundamental concept in spreadsheet computing. It becomes crucial when you want to refer to a specific cell repeatedly in a formula without changing the cell reference. The dollar sign ($) before the column letter and row number in a cell reference indicates that it is an absolute reference.
When you copy a formula down or across, relative references adjust automatically to refer to the correct cells, while absolute references maintain the original reference. Using absolute cell reference can help avoid errors in calculations, especially when working with large spreadsheets that require complex formulas.
Using Absolute Cell Reference in Excel
Excel is one of the most popular spreadsheet applications used to analyze data, create reports, and perform mathematical and statistical calculations. You can use absolute cell reference in Excel to reference cells in the same sheet or across different sheets of a workbook.
To create an absolute reference, add the dollar sign to the front of the column letter and row number of the cell reference. For example, the formula =$A$1+$B$1 references cells A1 and B1 absolutely.
You can also use F4 to toggle between absolute and relative cell references. After typing a cell reference, press F4 to add the dollar sign to the selected cell reference and make it an absolute reference.
Using Absolute Cell Reference in Google Sheets
Google Sheets is a cloudbased spreadsheet application that is similar to Excel. Absolute cell reference works the same way in Google Sheets as it does in Excel. You can reference cells inside the same sheet or across different sheets.
To create an absolute reference in Google Sheets, use the dollar sign notation before the column letter and row number. For example, $A$1+$B$1 references cells A1 and B1 absolutely.
Just like in Excel, you can also use F4 to toggle between relative and absolute reference in Google Sheets. After typing a cell reference, press F4 to change the selected cell reference to an absolute reference.
Code Examples
In the code examples given in the article, we demonstrated how you can use absolute cell reference in VBA for Excel and Apps Script for Google Sheets. Both programming languages enable you to extend the functionality of Excel and Google Sheets by automating tasks and performing complex calculations.
VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) is a programming language used to automate tasks in Excel. You can use VBA to create macros, automate repetitive tasks, and build complex formulas. The code example given in the article shows how to create a pivot table in Excel using VBA, with absolute cell references.
Apps Script is a JavaScriptbased scripting language that powers addons and scripts in Google Sheets. You can use it to automate tasks, add new functionality to spreadsheets, and build custom interfaces. The code example given in the article shows how to create a pivot table in Google Sheets using Apps Script, with absolute cell references.
Conclusion
Absolute cell reference is an essential concept in spreadsheet computing that allows you to reference cells in formulas without having to worry about them changing when you copy or move the formula. It is an excellent way to avoid errors and ensure accuracy in your calculations.
In this article, we explored what absolute cell reference is, how to use it in Excel and Google Sheets, and provided code examples that demonstrate how to apply this concept in practice. Remember that the dollar sign notation is used to create an absolute reference in both Excel and Google Sheets, and F4 can be used to toggle between relative and absolute references. Use these examples to improve your productivity when working with spreadsheets.
Popular questions

What is Absolute Cell Reference?
Answer: Absolute Cell Reference is a way of referencing cells in a spreadsheet that does not change regardless of where the formula is copied or moved. It is denoted by a dollar sign ($). 
How do you create an absolute cell reference in Excel and Google Sheets?
Answer: To create an absolute cell reference, you need to use the dollar sign notation before the column letter and row number of the cell reference. For example, $A$1+$B$1 references cells A1 and B1 absolutely. 
Why is absolute cell reference important in spreadsheet computing?
Answer: Absolute cell reference is important because it allows you to reference cells repeatedly in a formula without changing the cell reference. This feature is useful when working with large spreadsheets that require complex formulas and helps avoid errors in calculations. 
What is VBA, and how is it used in Excel?
Answer: VBA stands for Visual Basic for Applications, which is a programming language used to automate tasks in Excel. It allows users to create macros, automate repetitive tasks, and build complex formulas. 
What is Apps Script, and how is it used in Google Sheets?
Answer: Apps Script is a JavaScriptbased scripting language that powers addons and scripts in Google Sheets. It allows users to automate tasks, add new functionality to spreadsheets, and build custom interfaces.
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