Microsoft Office Tutorials and References

In Depth Information

**Cell references explained**

Figure 3–1.
Comparing the Formula Bar and its current cell

Now
we know why the Formula Bar is so named. It opens a window on what is
really
going on in the

cell beneath the surface, and in this case of course what you see in the bar doesn’t correspond to what

you see in the cell. If you print the spreadsheet you’ll see the number 8 (by default, anyway), and that’s

nearly always want you
want
to see. But you also may need to know that the number was brought about

by a formula, and not a simple act of data entry. To glean that bit of information, click on the cell and

view the Formula Bar.

Now, nothing at all prevents you from writing a more protracted formula, such as

=3+5+6+78+91+5+12+45+1

Press Enter and you’ll get your answer. Remember, after all—you have 32,767 characters per cell to

work with. But for a variety of reasons, spreadsheet users don’t like to enter numbers directly into a

formula; it’s inefficient and a pain to edit, and if you content yourself with this approach you’re treating

Excel as little more than a PC-based calculator. The far superior way of proceeding is to enter the data

you’re going to work with in cells, and to work with
cell references
.

Cell references explained

What’s a cell reference? It’s an expression that, as its name suggests, refers to, or
returns
the
,

contents of another cell. Thus if you type the number 45 in cell C6 and proceed to type =C6 in cell C7,

that latter cell will display 45 onscreen. If I type Excel in C6, cell C7 will now naturally display Excel. What

it
won’t
display onscreen is =C6, even though that’s what you’ve actually typed in the cell.

Now back to our addition example. If I type the same numbers I added above in separate cells, as in

Figure 3–2: