Writing Excel formulas is a little different than the way it is done in mathematics class. All Excel formulas starts with equal sign (=), that is, the equal sign always goes in that cell where you want the answer to appear from formula. Therefore, the equal sign informs Excel that this is formula not just a name or number. Excel formula looks like
= 3 + 2
Cell References in Formula
The example of formula has one drawback. If you want to change the number being calculated (3, and 2), you need to edit it or re-write the formula. A better way is to write formula in such a way that you can change the numbers without changing or re-writing the formulas themselves. To do this, cell references are used, which tells Excel that data/ numbers are located in a cell. Therefore a cell’s location/ reference in the spreadsheet is referred to as its cell reference.
To find a cell reference, simply click the cell of which you need cell reference and from NAME BOX (shown in figure below), see the text, such as F2.
F2 represents the cell in F column (horizontal position) and row 2 (vertical position). It means cells reference can also be found by reading column heading (at the top most position) of the cells and row number (at the left most position). Therefore, cell reference is a combination of the column letter and row number such as A1, B2, Z5, and A106 etc. For previous formula example, instead of writing = 3 + 2 in cell suppose (C1), follow this way of cell reference and formula writing:
In cell A1 write 3, and in cell B2 write 2. In C1 cell write the formula such as,
= A1 + A2
Note that there is no gap between A & 1 and A & 2, they are simply A1 and A2. See the diagram for clear understanding.
Updating Excel Formula
Upon wrong cell references in Excel formula, the results from formula will be automatically updated, whenever the data value in relevant cells is changed. For example, if you want to change data in cell A1 to 8 instead of 3, you only need to change the content of A1 only. The result of formula in cell C1 will automatically be updated after the updation of data value in A1 or B1.
Note that the formula will not change because the cells references are being used instead of data values or numbers.