Controlling Formula Reference Jumping

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated January 21, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Leo notes that for a long time, every time he selects a cell with a formula in it, it jumps to the cell or worksheet addressed in the formula. Leo wants to just select the cell, not jump to another one. He wonders what he may be doing wrong.

The first thing to figure out is if this happens on just a single cell or if it happens on all of those containing formulas. If it is just one, then there is a good chance that the cell doesn't really contain a formula, but instead a hyperlink. Check it by right-clicking the cell and, from the resulting Context menu, choosing Remove Hyperlink.

If it happens with all cells, then you need to look at how you are selecting the cell. If, by "selecting," you mean that you are double-clicking the cell in order to edit it, then you need to make a change in Excel's configuration:

  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 and later versions, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click the Advanced option at the left of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The advanced options in the Excel Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Allow Editing Directly In Cell check box is selected.
  5. Click on OK.

Now when you double-click, the cells referenced in the formula should not be selected. Instead, you are placed into editing mode in the cell you double-clicked.

If you are only single-clicking on the cell and the jumping is occurring, then the most likely culprit is that there is a macro involved that detects when you select the cell and automatically jumps you to a different cell. In that case, you'll need to figure out where the macro is and make any adjustments necessary to modify the behavior of the macro to what you expect. (The brute-force method is to use Save As to save the workbook as a non-macro-enabled workbook. This will remove all macros and you can then see if the same behavior exists.)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13005) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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 8 - 4?

2023-01-21 21:22:39


I believe you would also experience an unexpected jump if the target cell is locked and the sheet is protected without permission to select locked cells.

2023-01-21 09:54:27

J. Woolley

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