Relative and absolute references

In formulas, you can represent data by using the cell address where the data is stored.

When you move a formula or the data it refers to, IBM Docs makes any necessary changes so that the formula still refers to the same data. However, when you copy a formula, you can make the formula refer to the original or different data by using absolute or relative references to the cell addresses in the formula.

Relative references

When you copy a formula that contains cell addresses, IBM Docs adjusts the addresses to their new location or locations in the sheet. Addresses (for example B25) that adjust when you copy them are called relative references. And the absolute references are kept intact when you drag one formula cell with absolute reference in it.

For example, if the formula =A1+A2 is in cell A4 and you copy this formula to B4, the formula in B4 changes to =B1+B2. IBM Docs adjusts the cell addresses in the formula relative to the new location of the formula.

Absolute references

Sometimes you want a formula to refer to the same cells, no matter where you copy it. To ensure that the formula always refers to the same cells, you change the references to those cells to absolute references. An absolute reference always refers to the same cell or range.

To make a relative reference absolute, you add a $ (dollar sign) before the column letter and before the row number, for example $B$25. If necessary, you can also add $ before the sheet name, for example $Sheet2!$B$25.




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