Use cell references in a formula

When you create a simple formula or a formula by that uses a function, you can refer to data in worksheet cells by including cell references in the formula arguments. For example, when you enter or select the cell reference A2, the formula uses the value of that cell to calculate the result. You can also reference a range of cells.

For more information about cell references, see Create or change a cell reference.

  1. Click the cell in which you want to enter the formula.
  2. In the formula bar (formula bar: A bar at the top of the Excel window that you use to enter or edit values or formulas in cells or charts. Displays the constant value or formula stored in the active cell.) Button image, type = (equal sign).
  3. Do one of the following, select the cell that contains the value you want or type its cell reference.

You can refer to a single cell, a range of cells, a location in another worksheet, or a location in another workbook.

When selecting a range of cells, you can drag the border of the cell selection to move the selection, or drag the corner of the border to expand the selection.

Range Finder color-codes precedent cells

Callout 1 The first cell reference is B3, the color is blue, and the cell range has a blue border with square corners.
Callout 2 The second cell reference is C3, the color is green, and the cell range has a green border with square corners.

 Note   If there is no square corner on a color-coded border, the reference is to a named range.

  1. Press Enter.

 Tip    You can also enter a reference to a named cell or range. For more information, see Define and use names in formulas.


The workbook below shows examples of using cell references. You can change values or formulas in any cells (including cells on Sheet3A), and see the updated results on Sheet3. In the workbook, B2:B4 is defined as "Assets" and C2:C4 is defined as "Liabilities."

To work more in-depth with the example data in Excel, download the embedded workbook to your computer, and then open it in Excel..

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Applies to:
Excel 2013