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: Converting from Relative to Absolute.

Converting from Relative to Absolute

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 10, 2021)

Excel allows you to easily edit formulas. In doing so, you can quickly change a cell reference or a range reference from relative to absolute. What if you have a large number of cells in which you need to change from relative to absolute referencing? In this instance, the nature of the problem is well-suited to being solved through a macro.

By using the ConvertFormula method available in VBA, you can easily convert a formula from relative to absolute addressing. The following short macro uses this method to change the addressing method used in a range of cells:

Sub Relative2Absolute()
    Dim c As Range

    For Each c In Selection
        If c.HasFormula = True Then
            c.Formula = Application.ConvertFormula(c.Formula, _
              xlA1, xlA1, xlAbsolute)
        End If
    Next c
End Sub

The key to how this macro works is, of course, in the ConvertFormula method. The last parameter used by the method is—in this case—xlAbsolute. If you want to adapt the macro so that it changes to other types of addressing, you can change xlAbsolute to xlRelative, xlAbsRowRelColumn, or xlRelRowAbsColumn. (I'm sure you can figure out the purpose of each constant by its name.)

There is one other thing to remember regarding the ConvertFormula method: It has a length limit of 255 characters. That means that if your formula is very long, it is possible that the method won't work as you'd like. The best way to figure out if it will work for your needs is to test it out.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10738) 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: Converting from Relative to Absolute.

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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