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## Excel Tip – Understanding The Dollar Sign In An Excel Formula

As you may know formulas refer to cells by pointing to a cell reference, for example A1 and B2.

There are three types of cell references that can be used in Excel – Relative, Absolute and Mixed.

**Relative Cell References**. With this type of cell references, when you copy or move a formula to a cell without the formula being entered then the cell references change according to their new location.

The row and column parts of the formula are not preceded by a $ sign. For example, A1 is a reference that corresponds to cell A1. If it is removed or removed, the reference changes with the same number of rows and columns as it was removed. So, if you move the formula with the relative index A1 one cell down and one cell to the right, the reference changes to B2. As we know that this type of behavior is very useful and allows the formula to be copied across or down the page and automatically refer to the new row or row in which it finds itself.

For example if we have a column with a formula in D3=SUM(B3:C3) we can drag the formula in D3 down the column to D10 and combine all the data of the related row immediately down to the 10th row.

**Full Cell References**– In some cases you may want the cell reference to remain constant or something called absolute. This is where $ is used. A good example of this is if we have a fixed VAT rate, we can store the VAT rate value in a cell, say G2 and then reference that cell in our formula. A typical formula might look like this –

=A2*$G$2 where A2 is the Sales Price and G2 contains the VAT.

The $ signs around both rows and columns ensure that whether we drag the formula by row or column then the reference value of Vat remains the same, ie absolute.

**Mixed References **– these are just that – a mixed column or row array. The best example of this type pf reference is a periodic table where we want each cell to be the product of its row and column header. Let’s assume that the table starts at Column A and Row 1.

In cell B2, the formula without dollars will be A2 * B1, but for this formula to work when copied to each column, it must always look at column A in the first reference and to work in each row, we must always look at row 1 in the second reference. Using the dollar sign to do this, it becomes =$A3*B$1. This can be drawn from the entire times table and Excel will fill this in correctly.

Don’t forget the fastest way to insert the $ sign is to hit the F$ key when entering a formula. Repeatedly hitting the F4 key between dollar signs, both dollar signs, just a row and just a column.

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