Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Stopping a Formula from Updating References.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 14, 2015)
David wonders if there is a way he can make a formula not automatically update when he inserts a column that would otherwise affect the formula. For instance, if he has the formula =SUM(B:B) and then he inserts a column to the left of column B, the formula is automatically updated by Excel to =SUM(C:C). He doesn't want the formula to update; he still wants it to refer to column B after he inserts the new column.
One way to get the result you want is to use the OFFSET function to refer to column B. For instance, consider the following formula:
If this formula is in a cell, and you insert a column before column B, then the formula doesn't update; it still refers to column B. Why? Because the formula refers to column A and you didn't do anything to move column A. If you did insert a column before column A, then the formula would update to reference column B.
This means that the best way to handle the formula is to use the INDIRECT function, in this manner:
The INDIRECT function uses text for a parameter, and since it is text it is not considered a reference to be updated by Excel. Regardless of inserting or deleting columns, the formula will always refer to column B.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10786) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Stopping a Formula from Updating References.
Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!
Normally you use the RAND and RANDBETWEEN functions to generate random numbers. What if you want to generate random ...Discover More
If you want to add up the contents of a range of cells based on what is contained in a different range of cells, you need ...Discover More
If you need to add dashes between letters and numbers in a string, the work can quickly get tedious. This tip examines ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.