What are references in Excel?

A cell reference refers to a cell or a range of cells on a worksheet and can be used in a formula so that Microsoft Office Excel can find the values or data that you want that formula to calculate.

In one or several formulas, you can use a cell reference to refer to:

  • Data from one or more contiguous cells on the worksheet.
  • Data is contained in different areas of a worksheet.
  • Data on other worksheets in the same workbook.

How to create a Cell Reference:

  1. Click the cell in which you want to enter the formula.
  2. In the formula bar, type = (equal sign).
  3. Do one of the following:
  • Reference one or more cells To create a reference, select a cell or range of cells on the same worksheet.
  • You can drag the border of the cell selection to move the selection, or drag the corner of the border to expand the selection.
  • Reference a defined name To create a reference to a defined name, do one of the following:
  • Type the name.
  • Press F3, select the name in the Paste name box, and then click OK.
  • Note: If there is no square corner on a color-coded border, the reference is to a named range.

Do one of the following:

  • If you are creating a reference in a single cell, press Enter.
  • If you are creating a reference in an array formula (such A1:G4), press Ctrl+Shift+Enter.
  • The reference can be a single cell or a range of cells, and the array formula can be one that calculates single or multiple results.