Using R1C1 Formula References in a Macro

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 17, 2018)


Gerry finds it easiest to put together formulas that use R1C1 cell references. She knows how to do this when manually adding formulas to a worksheet, but wonders how she can use R1C1 references in formulas that she puts together and stuffs into cells using a macro. She wonders if there is anything she needs to watch out for when doing this.

When you are normally stuffing a formula into a cell, you would use this type of syntax in your macro:

Cells(3,1).Formula = "=A1 + A2"
Range("A3").Formula = "=A1 + A2"

Either of these will work fine; they both stuff a simple formula into cell A3. If, however, you want to use R1C1 references in the formula you place into cell A3, you only need to change the Formula property to the FormulaR1C1 property:

Cells(3,1).FormulaR1C1 = "=R1C1 + R2C1"
Range("A3").FormulaR1C1 = "=R1C1 + R2C1"

It is interesting to note that if you place the above R1C1 formulas into a cell and the worksheet doesn't have R1C1 display turned on, then Excel converts the formula to reflect the display that is active. In other words, it automatically changes "=R1C1 + R2C1" to "=$A$1 + $A$2". The opposite is also true—place the formula "=A1 + A2" into a cell, and it displays as " =R[-2]C + R[-1]C" if you have R1C1 display turned on.

You should also note that since both Formula and FormulaR1C1 are properties, you can read them and see the formula in the cell in the desired format. For instance, let's say cell A3 contains the formula "=A1 + A2". If you then run the following macro, you'll see the formula displayed in the desired formats:

Sub TestFormula()
    Dim sMsg As String

    sMsg = "Regular format: " & Cells(3,1).Formula & vbCrLf
    sMsg = sMsg & "R1C1 format: " & Range("A3").FormulaR1C1
    MsgBox sMsg
End Sub

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Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is six more than 8?

2018-02-18 19:45:08

walter costello

Alan, for what its worth - if you press the ctrl key and the tilde ~ keys excel displays the spreadsheet formulae cell references instead of numbers. To exit just repeat the key strokes!


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