Make an Excel Formula Constant

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN
October 1, 2001

Q. Sometimes an Excel convenience can become a handicap. For example, if you move a formula to a new location, Excel will automatically change the formula to reflect the new location. But that automatic action can be a pain if you want the formula to remain constant—not to adjust to the new location. I know I can manually add $ symbols to the parts of the formula I want to remain constant, but if you have several formulas to move, that’s time-consuming. Any ideas on getting around this problem?

A. What you want is a command to get Excel to apply an absolute reference to the moved formula rather than a relative reference. Yes, you can do that.

But first, let’s back up a bit for readers who are unfamiliar with this technique. For example, if you have the formula below

and you move it to a different location, the references will change automatically to

But if you want it to reference A1 and A2 even after the move, you can change the formula to

by adding the $ symbols as shown.

An easier way to make the formula absolute is to double-click the cell that contains the original formula and then, with your mouse, highlight the formula, press F4 and then Enter. That will add the appropriate $ symbols in the right places to convert the formula into absolute referencing.

Shortcuts

Excel’s AutoSum automatically enters the sum of any column or row of values. Select the cell below or to the right of the values you’re summing and click the AutoSum button. You can even add multiple columns and rows of values at the same time by selecting contiguous cells and clicking AutoSum .

Keyboard’s AutoSum : If you’re fond of the keyboard, you can do the same thing by pressing Alt–= (that’s the Alt and the equal keys).

Find a page in Word: To jump quickly to a particular page in a lengthy Word document, press the F5 key, which launches the Select function, and type the page number you want.

Another way to evoke that screen with the mouse is to double-click on the page box in the lower left corner of the document window (the one that indicates page number).

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: EARLY CAREER

Making manager: The key to accelerating your career

Being promoted to manager is a key development in a young public accountant’s career. Here’s what CPAs need to learn to land that promotion.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: MIDDLE CAREER

Motivation and preparation can pave the path to CFO

CPAs in business and industry face intense competition to land a coveted CFO job. Learn how to best prepare yourself for the role.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: LATE CAREER

Second act: Consulting

CPAs are using experience to carve out late-career niches. Learn how to successfully make a late-career transition to consulting, from CPAs who have done it.