Using cell reference to ‘Excel’

Technology not only helps us in a practical sense, but it can also teach us to look at things in a different way.  Let’s take using cell reference within Excel as an example: it’s a very simple formula but this small automation can certainly transform the way you do things.

If you work with Excel on a regular basis, you’ll recognise the cell referencing function (=) as the starting point for any formula, such as SUM, AVERAGE, VLOOKUP, etc.  In its simplest form, cell referencing is used to refer to another cell within your worksheet, another worksheet, or even another workbook.

If you haven’t used cell referencing before, here’s how:

  • Within the active cell, type =;
  • Click on the cell you’d like to reference (or manually type in the cell reference);
  • Press Enter.

To reference a cell within another worksheet:

  • Within the active cell, type =;
  • Click on the worksheet tab which contains the data to be referenced; then click on the cell you’d like to reference;
  • Press Enter.

Finally, to reference a cell in an external workbook:

  • Firstly ensure the external workbook is open (and has been saved, if you’ve been working on it);
  • Within the active cell (of the current worksheet), type =;
  • Navigate to the external workbook, and onto the worksheet tab which contains the data to be referenced; then click on the cell you’d like to reference;
  • Press Enter.

Something to keep in mind: if you delete your source data, then the cell(s) referencing that data will display 0 (or something similar, depending on the format of the source cell).  The upside is that all cells referencing your source data will automatically be updated when the source is updated.

Now, just like cell referencing, oftentimes even the simplest, everyday processes can benefit from some form of automation.  Instead, we’re inclined to think, Oh, this will only take me a minute so I’ll just do it now.  But time is precious so this kind of thinking isn’t sustainable.

On the contrary, taking a step back to scrutinise your processes (whether in digital or physical form) helps:

  • Streamline your processes;
  • Lessen the things you need to think about as you work;
  • Maximise the time you have available to you;
  • Minimise the risk of error.

So you see, Excel’s cell referencing teaches us to streamline and/or automate wherever we can.  Do you have Excel spreadsheets that could benefit from cell referencing?  Likewise, what other areas in your life do you think could be simplified?

Did you find this post helpful?  If so, please share it, and feel free to leave a comment – we’d love to hear from you.

Hi, I’m Tania.  I want to help you create and format professional PowerPoint and Excel documents.  Learn more here.

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