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: Relative References when Recording Macros.

Relative References when Recording Macros

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 19, 2013)

1

One of the most common ways of creating a macro is to use the macro recorder built into Excel. The recorder allows you to record your keystrokes and play them back again later. When you record your macros, Excel is very literal about recording what you do. For instance, if you start recording while cell B7 is selected, and then you press the Down Arrow key, cell B8 is now selected.

When you later select cell E12 and play back this macro, you might expect that the macro would move down one cell, to E13, as if you had pressed the Down Arrow key. Instead, when that line of the macro is executed, cell B8 is selected.

The reason this happens is that Excel memorized your absolute steps. It didn't record the press of the Down Arrow key, but instead recorded the movement to cell B8. This exemplifies the default condition of the macro recorder—to record all movements and cell references absolutely.

If you instead want your macros to be recorded relatively (so that the macro moves down one cell instead of moving to cell B8), then you need to instruct Excel to do so. You do this by using the Relative Reference tool on the Stop Recording toolbar. Click the tool and all your subsequent actions are interpreted relative to the current selected cell. Click the tool a second time, and you are back to subsequent actions being interpreted absolutely.

It is important that you remember to click the tool before you take an action that is recorded. The tool's stated (on or off) affects only the recording of future actions, not what has been already recorded.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3108) 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: Relative References when Recording Macros.

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

Saving a WordArt Image as a Graphics File

WordArt can be a handy tool for creating all sorts of flourishes on traditional text. If you want to save the graphic ...

Discover More

Tracked Changes Won't Go Away

Track Changes is a great tool when editing a document, but the ways that it affects your document can sometimes be confusing. ...

Discover More

Noting Inactivity within a Timeframe

There are many times when you are creating a worksheet that you need to analyze dates within that worksheet. Once such ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Removing a Macro from a Shortcut Key

When you assign a macro to a shortcut key, you make it easy to run the macro without ever removing your hands from the ...

Discover More

Deriving an Absolute Value in a Macro

Need to figure out an absolute value within your macro code? It's easy to do using the Abs function, described in this tip.

Discover More

Determining Mouse Cursor Coordinates On a Graphic

Add a graphic to a worksheet as part of an Image object, and you can use some very handy event handlers to figure out 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 8Mpixels. 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 eight less than 9?

2015-08-26 01:56:02

Robert Siedentopf

Hello I have excel 2003 and there is no tab in the record window to change from active to relative recording. I also went to tools options general and changed that to relative.....but its still a active recording mixed with relative references......so what am I not getting here whats going on??


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.