Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Converting from Relative to Absolute.

Converting from Relative to Absolute

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 22, 2016)

3

Excel allows you to easily edit formulas. In doing so, you can quickly change a cell reference or a range reference from relative to absolute. What if you have a large number of cells in which you need to change from relative to absolute referencing? In this instance, the nature of the problem is well-suited to being solved through a macro.

By using the ConvertFormula method available in VBA, you can easily convert a formula from relative to absolute addressing. The following short macro uses this method to change the addressing method used in a range of cells:

Sub Relative2Absolute()
For Each c In Selection
    If c.HasFormula = True Then
        c.Formula = Application.ConvertFormula(c.Formula, _
          xlA1, xlA1, xlAbsolute)
    End If
Next c
End Sub

The key to how this macro works is, of course, in the ConvertFormula method. The last parameter used by the method is—in this case—xlAbsolute. If you want to adapt the macro so that it changes to other types of addressing, you can change xlAbsolute to xlRelative, xlAbsRowRelColumn, or xlRelRowAbsColumn. (I'm sure you can figure out the purpose of each constant by its name.)

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (1927) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Converting from Relative to Absolute.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Positive and Negative Colors in a Chart

When creating a line cart, the line can show values both positive and negative values. This tip explains how you can use ...

Discover More

Printing a Range of Pages

If your worksheet, when printed, requires more than a single page to print, you may want to only print a range of the ...

Discover More

Skipping Numbering

Got a numbered list, but you want to add other types of non-numbered paragraphs in the middle of the list? It's easy to ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Running a Procedure when a Workbook is Opened

Ever want to have Excel run a procedure whenever you open a workbook? It's not as difficult as you might think. Here's how.

Discover More

Using BIN2DEC In a Macro

Need a way, in a macro, to convert binary numbers into their decimal equivalents? There are two ways you can get the ...

Discover More

Converting Text to Numbers

Import information from a program external to Excel, and your numbers may be treated as text because of the way that the ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five minus 4?

2016-11-13 05:48:48

Alan Elston

Thanks Allen Wyatt. This was helpful.
_1) Some literature had confused me as, untypically in this case, a named argument, ( the 4th ( Your last ) ) did not give a good indication of its meaning. That argument is given as ToAbsolute:= . As I expected , setting this to True or 1 caused the formula to return Absolute type like R2C3 or $A2$3 etc.
Setting to False or 0 left the Type as it were.
It was therefore not clear that this argument could be used as well for the other types, as you have indicated. This blog helped me to notice that I could use xlRelative or 4 to cause the Application.ConvertFormula Method to return Relative type.
_2) I note that there is a 5th and final Argument, RelativeTo:= . This is for the Cell to which the Relative reference “Offset Number” is applied. If not given this appears, in first instance, to default to the Application.ActiveCell, which in turn appears in this case to apply to the Active Cell at time of running the code, (regardless of which Code Module the Code is in).
An exception appears to be when the Application.ConvertFormula Method is applied , as in your case , to a Cell. In which case the final argument if given is ignored and the Cell to which the Relative reference “Offset Number” is applied is taken as that of the Cell to which the Application.ConvertFormula Method is applied
_3a) Some literature confuses if it is talking about the Relative or Absolute type or the “R C style” or “column letter and row number style”.
'_3b) It does not help that the former "Style" is referred to as "R1C1 style" ( or xlR1C1 ) and the latter is referred to as "A1 Style" ( or xlA1 ).
'For a beginner this is very confusing. For example, used in a formula
'_ A1 is a Relative type of the "column letter and row number Style", that is to say applied such
Range("A5:A6").Value = "=A1"
'will return in Cell A5 "=A1" and in Cell A6 "=A2"
'_ R1C1 is an Absolute type of the "R C Style", that is to say applied such
Range("A5:A6").Value = "=R1C1"
'will return in Cell A5 "=$A$1" and similarly in Cell A6 ="=$A$1"


2016-10-24 05:13:27

Michael (Micky) Avidan

#Ingrid,
The tip was mainly aimed to "What if you have a LARGE(!) number of cells" and not for a single cell - therefore you words "An easy way to do this..." are misleading the readers.
--------------------------
Michael (Micky) Avidan
“Microsoft® Answers" - Wiki author & Forums Moderator
“Microsoft®” MVP – Excel (2009-2017)
ISRAEL


2016-10-24 02:02:55

Ingrid Kennedy

Hi,

An easy way to do this is to tap the F4 key while the cursor is next to the reference that needs to be changed to absolute. Also, tap F4 to remove the $ next to the column and row references as desired.

Ciao!
Ingrid


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.