Absolute Cell Reference

What Does Absolute Cell Reference Mean?

An absolute cell reference is a cell reference in a spreadsheet application that remains constant even if the shape or size of the spreadsheet is changed, or the reference is copied or moved to another cell or sheet.


Absolute cell references are important when referring to constant values in a spreadsheet.

Absolute cell reference may also be called absolute reference.

Techopedia Explains Absolute Cell Reference

Absolute cell reference can be used when a particular cell reference needs to be constant. Cell references are often used in formulas, charts, functions and other commands. In some scenarios, it becomes important to keep a cell reference constant when it is copied to a different cell.

An absolute cell reference always remains the same no matter where it is copied and is often denoted by the “$” symbol. So, if B10 is a cell in a spreadsheet, $B$10 is used to denote that the reference always points to the 10th row in column B, even if that reference is copied to another cell or the spreadsheet is changed in some other way.

In many spreadsheet programs such as Excel, a cell reference can be made absolute by pressing the F4 key after the cell reference is typed. The spreadsheet will automatically make the cell reference absolute. If the F4 key is pressed continuously, the spreadsheet program will cycle through all of the absolute reference possibilities. For instance, if the cell reference is typed as $A1, continuous pressing of F4 will change the cell reference to A$1 and then A1. By pressing the F4 key cell references are changed directly to the left of the insertion point.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…