Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Reference Shortcut.

Reference Shortcut

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 13, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


In past issues of ExcelTips you learned the differences between absolute and relative cell references. One of the shortcuts provided by Excel allows you to quickly cycle through the various forms of reference for a cell. All you need to do is position the insertion point in your formula somewhere within a reference you have entered. For instance, if you entered the cell reference B1, simply make sure the insertion point is before the B, after the B, or after the 1. You can then press the F4 key to start cycling.

Each time you press F4, Excel adds different permutations of the dollar sign ($). The first time you press, the reference becomes $B$1, the second time it is B$1, the third time it is $B1, and the fourth it is back to plain old B1.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12182) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Reference Shortcut.

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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