Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Understanding R1C1 References.

Understanding R1C1 References

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 3, 2018)

5

Excel, by default, uses a reference format known as A1. This simply means that columns are referred to using letters and rows using numbers. References contain a combination of both the column letter and row number, thereby designating a unique cell.

Not all spreadsheet programs use this same method of referring to cells. The other major method of referencing cells is called the R1C1 format. In this notation, both rows and columns are referred to using numbers. The numbers are differentiated by using of the R and C letters, which stand for row and column. Thus, the intersection of row 5 and column 7 would be referred to as R5C7.

Excel allows you to control whether it uses A1 or R1C1 notation for cell references. To specify which notation format you want to use, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 or a later version display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box click Formulas. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Formulas tab of the Excel Options dialog box.

  4. If you want to use R1C1 format, select the R1C1 Reference Style check box; if you want to use A1 format (the default for Excel), clear the check box.
  5. Click on OK.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8803) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Understanding R1C1 References.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Full Path Names in Excel

Need to know what the full path name is for the current workbook? With a simple macro you can display the full path name ...

Discover More

Adding Table Columns to Columns with Merged Cells

Word's table editor allows you to modify the structure of tables in a wide variety of ways. If you want to add columns to ...

Discover More

Printing via Macro without Messages

When you are printing a document, it is not unusual to see messages (dialog boxes) periodically. When you want the ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Losing Data in a Shared Workbook

When you create a shared workbook, you run the risk of losing some of the data in that workbook. Here's a discussion ...

Discover More

Fixing a Numeric Keypad Key

We all expect the keyboard keys to operate as normal, and when they don't, it can be bothersome. Geraldine had such a ...

Discover More

Modifying Error Alerts Received

Excel helpfully lets you know when the data or formulas you've entered in a cell don't make sense. It does this by ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 4 - 0?

2017-03-18 04:39:04

Alan Elston

This is a great basic tip, that someone using Excel should learn at an early stage, In my opinion.
It would save a lot of confusion later when one , as is typically the case, comes across the Row and column number ( R C ) type convention notation somewhat later in the learning of Excel
Alan


2016-11-08 15:10:36

gerdami

I have been using Excel in A1 mode for years and I won't change, too lazy!
However, I recently discovered that I can also use the R1C1 notation in my A1 workbooks thanks to the INDIRECT or the HYPERLINK functions.

Example: INDIRECT("Sheet1!R1C99", False)


2016-11-08 07:44:36

Guy Goodwin

In case Bruce is still seeking the answer to his question, you must save this property setting in your default workbook. The following link provides the answer for Excel 2010:
http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/msoffice/forum/msoffice_excel-mso_other/how-do-i-change-the-r1c1-reference-style-to/5dd4aecc-f83b-476e-ac38-6769139502a0


2015-10-08 05:42:31

tony madan

thank you very much


2015-01-29 11:23:55

Bruce Hogman

How does one set Excel to open every time in R1C1 style?


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.