If you are new to Microsoft Excel, the use of the dollar sign ($) can be a little obscure. It is, however, a useful tool, and easy to use when you know what you’re doing (and why). This article should help you get the hang of using dollar signs in excel.
For more quick tips check out our 10 Top Time Saving Excel Formulas.
The Basic Principle
Put simply, if you place a formula into a cell, then copy and paste the formula to a different cell, the cell values used will move with it.
For example, if you place the formula ‘A1+A2’ into the cell A4, then copy and paste it into cell A5, the formula will change to ‘A2+A3’. This change is because you have moved the formula one cell to the right – both cell references have moved the same distance in the same direction.
Using the Dollar Symbol
When you don’t want a cell reference to change when you copy and paste, the solution is to use a dollar sign. The dollar sign can be used in one of three ways:
- When you don’t want the cell reference to change at all. If this is the case, instead of entering ‘A1’ for example, enter ‘$A$1’. By putting the dollar signs on both sides of the letter, you render the cell reference unchangeable.
- When you want the reference to change when you move the formula to a different column, but not to a different row. In this instance, instead of entering ‘A1’, enter ‘$A1’.
- When you want the reference to change when moved to a different row, not a different column. In this case, the dollar sign goes between the letter and the number, making ‘A$1’.
This very short introduction should give you a basic idea of how to use the dollar sign in Excel, and ideas on how to make it work for you.