# Reference styles

## Introduction

A reference style is determined by the address of the home cell (the top left cell in a worksheet). Excel has two styles, the A1 reference style and the R1C1 reference style. You can **download the workbook** for this module from the link on the figure 6 Excel Web App #1.

### A1 reference style

- The header row has alphabetic characters {A, B, C, ..., XFB, XFC, XFD}
- The address of the
**home cell**is the intersection of column A and row 1, denoted**A1**- see figure 1 - left panel - To goto the Home cell, use the Ctrl + Home shortcut
- A1 reference style is (column, row) notation
- This is the default style and the most commonly used spreadsheet reference style
- The style was inherited from Lotus 1-2-3, and VisiCalc
- Trivia: It is also the reference system for street directories such as the Australian Melway directory

### R1C1 reference style

- The header row has numerical characters {1, 2, 3, ..., 16382, 16383, 16384}
- The address of the
**home cell**is the intersection of row 1 and column 1, denoted**R1C1**- see figure 1 - right panel - To goto the Home cell, use the Ctrl + Home shortcut
- R1C1 reference style is (row, column) notation
- The style is also used in mathematics, and numerical computing where elements of a matrix or array are indexed with (r,c) notation
- A number of Excel functions use row, and column references - such as the
**INDEX**and**OFFSET**functions

### Switching styles

To change styles, use the ribbon sequence

, then check / uncheck the box.## Cell references

### Relative reference

The type of cell reference is important when:

- Using references in a formula, and
- The
**formula is copied to other cells** - An example of relative referencing is shown in figure 2
- Copies of all example worksheets are available in the Excel Web App #1 - see figure 6

- The formula in cell Relative!D7 \( \left( 1+r \right)^{-t}\) has an exponent value from cell B7. D7:
`=(1+5%)^-B7`

- Relative to D7, the cell B7 is in the same row and 2 columns to the left
- In R1C1 style, the formula in cell D7 is
`=(1+5%)^-RC[-2]`

. In the same row`R`

and 2 columns left`C[-2]`

- When the D7 formula is copied down the column, the cell D8 formula is
`=(1+5%)^-B8`

- In R1C1 style, the formula in cell D8 is
`=(1+5%)^-RC[-2]`

. The same as D7 - An example of R1C1 relative addressing is shown in figure 3

### Absolute reference

The ABC Farming Co carrot washer example is continued. This time the discount rate is assigned to a cell (Absolute!D5), rather than being entered as a formula constant.

- The formula in cell Absolute!D8 has an exponent value from cell B8 (relative), but the discount rate is an absolute reference to cell D5 as shown by the $ signs.
`=(1+$D$5)^-B8`

- When the D8 formula is copied, the discount reference will always refer to the cell D5
- In R1C1 style, the formula in cell D8 is
`=(1+R5C4)^-RC[-2]`

- When the D8 formula is copied down the column, the cell D9 formula is
`=(1+$D$5)^-B9`

- In R1C1 style, the formula in cell D9 is
`=(1+R5C4)^-RC[-2]`

. The same as D8

### Mixed reference

The discounted cash flow theme is continued. This example constructs a table of discount rate for present value (PV). A framework is shown in figure 5, and Excel Web App #1 worksheet Mixed. The idea is to enter one formula in cell C4, and then copy this formula to the range C4:L24.

- The formula in cell Mixed!C4 has an exponent value reference to cell $B4 (absolute column and relative row, a mixed reference), and the discount rate reference to cell C$3 (relative column and absolute row, a mixed reference). C4
`=1/(1+C$3)^$B4`

- When the C4 formula is copied D4, the discount reference will always refer to the cell in row 3 and the same column as the formula. The period reference will always refer to the cell in column B and the same row as the formula
- When the C4 formula is copied C5, the discount reference will always refer to the cell in row 3 and the same column as the formula. The period reference will always refer to the cell in column B and the same row as the formula
- In R1C1 style, the formula in cell C4 is
`=1/(1+R3C)^RC2`

. When copied this same formula will be in every cell of the body of the`Table of Discount Factors`

### Reference shortcuts

- In edit mode, pressing the
**F4**key cycles through the four combinations of relative and absolute referencing - Press
**F4**before adding the closing bracket, next operator, or comma separator. Otherwise select the reference in equation edit mode, and cycle with**F4**to the desired cell reference combination

- This example was developed in Excel 2013 Pro 64 bit.
- Thanks to Tom for comments about the Mixed reference section [12 Nov 2017]

**Published:**25 August 2015**Revised:**Saturday 25th of February 2023 - 10:13 AM, [Australian Eastern Standard Time (EST)]