Make an Excel Formula Constant


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.


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