An Even Better Way To Make Excel Formulas Constant

In October of 2001 , we described in this column how to use the dollar sign ($) to make an Excel formula constant—so when you copy a formula to a different location on a spreadsheet it won’t automatically change to reflect the move. Subsequently, a reader suggested a better way: Double-click on the cell to be moved or duplicated and type an apostrophe (‘) in front of the formula, transforming the cell to a text—not a formula—cell. Then, after you copy or move it, you simply delete the apostrophe and the cell reference will remain unchanged.

Another reader recommended using the F4 function key to toggle between making a cell reference relative and absolute. Either double-click on the cell or press F2 to edit the cell; then hit F4. It works even when you highlight multiple cells. F4 adds the dollar sign to the cell references you’ve highlighted. If you don’t highlight a cell reference, Excel will add the dollar sign only to the cell reference closest to your cursor.

For this latest suggestion, thanks to Dan Olsen, who works for Utah’s Division of Finance in Salt Lake City.

Do you have technology questions for this column? Or, after reading an answer, do you have a better solution? Send them to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via e-mail at .

Because of the volume of mail, we regret that we cannot individually answer submitted questions. However, if a reader’s question has broad interest, we will answer it in a forthcoming Technology Q&A column.

On occasion you may find that you cannot implement a function I describe in this column. More often than not it’s because not all functions work in every operating system or application. I try to test everything in the 2000 and XP editions of Windows and Office. It’s virtually impossible to test them in all editions and it’s equally difficult to find out which editions are incompatible with a function. I apologize for the inconvenience.


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