This article describes the formula syntax and usage of the OFFSET function (function: A prewritten formula that takes a value or values, performs an operation, and returns a value or values. Use functions to simplify and shorten formulas on a worksheet, especially those that perform lengthy or complex calculations.) in Microsoft Excel.
Returns a reference to a range that is a specified number of rows and columns from a cell or range of cells. The reference that is returned can be a single cell or a range of cells. You can specify the number of rows and the number of columns to be returned.
OFFSET(reference, rows, cols, [height], [width])
The OFFSET function syntax has the following arguments (argument: A value that provides information to an action, an event, a method, a property, a function, or a procedure.):
- Reference Required. The reference from which you want to base the offset. Reference must refer to a cell or range of adjacent cells; otherwise, OFFSET returns the #VALUE! error value.
- Rows Required. The number of rows, up or down, that you want the upper-left cell to refer to. Using 5 as the rows argument specifies that the upper-left cell in the reference is five rows below reference. Rows can be positive (which means below the starting reference) or negative (which means above the starting reference).
- Cols Required. The number of columns, to the left or right, that you want the upper-left cell of the result to refer to. Using 5 as the cols argument specifies that the upper-left cell in the reference is five columns to the right of reference. Cols can be positive (which means to the right of the starting reference) or negative (which means to the left of the starting reference).
- Height Optional. The height, in number of rows, that you want the returned reference to be. Height must be a positive number.
- Width Optional. The width, in number of columns, that you want the returned reference to be. Width must be a positive number.
- If rows and cols offset reference over the edge of the worksheet, OFFSET returns the #REF! error value.
- If height or width is omitted, it is assumed to be the same height or width as reference.
- OFFSET doesn't actually move any cells or change the selection; it just returns a reference. OFFSET can be used with any function expecting a reference argument. For example, the formula SUM(OFFSET(C2,1,2,3,1)) calculates the total value of a 3-row by 1-column range that is 1 row below and 2 columns to the right of cell C2.
The workbook below shows examples of this function. Inspect them, change existing formulas, or enter your own formulas to learn how the function works.
To work more in-depth with the example data in Excel, download the embedded workbook to your computer, and then open it in Excel.