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Recording a macro using relative references

From: Excel for Mac 2011 Essential Training

Video: Recording a macro using relative references

When you record a macro in Excel, Excel records the cells that you click, and it remembers the addresses so it can't affect the same cells the next time you run the macro. It is possible, however, to record a macro that uses what are called relative references. In this movie, I will show you how to do both: to affect the specific cells that you click and to remember how far you moved in the worksheet using relative references. As a quick recap, a formula that contains an absolute reference to a cell won't change when you copy it to another cell, but a formula with a relative reference will.

Recording a macro using relative references

When you record a macro in Excel, Excel records the cells that you click, and it remembers the addresses so it can't affect the same cells the next time you run the macro. It is possible, however, to record a macro that uses what are called relative references. In this movie, I will show you how to do both: to affect the specific cells that you click and to remember how far you moved in the worksheet using relative references. As a quick recap, a formula that contains an absolute reference to a cell won't change when you copy it to another cell, but a formula with a relative reference will.

For example, take the two formulas that I have here in cells D2 and E2. The cell in D2 uses absolute references, and you can see that I have dollar signs next to the column letter and row number, which means that regardless of how I copy the formula it will not change. So, for example, if I were to click cell D2, Command+C to Copy and Command+V to paste, I paste the exact same formula, again because of the absolute references. And I just press Escape to remove the selection from D2.

The formula in cell E2 uses relative references, as you can see here. I will just simply have the column letter and row number for each of the two references, so when I press Command+C to copy and Command+V to paste, I get the number 51, and the reason when you look at the formula, is that it is now finding the sum of B3 through B5. So in another words, this formula, which I copied from above with absolute references, finds the total for B2 through B4. The formula here finds the total for B3 through B5.

So in other words, when I copied the formula and moved it down one cell by pasting it, it moved all the references down one as well, so instead of summarizing these three cells, it summarizes these three cells. Now there are some times you want that to happen and some times you don't. So in this movie, I am going to show you how to do both: record a macro with absolute references and with relative references. To do that, I will go to Sheet2, where I have my data laid out in a series of cells that are two columns to the right and two rows below the previous value: so, A1, C3, E5, and G7.

I am going to record a macro where I will make the value in cell C3 18 point and change the font of the value in cell E5, and I am going to start with cell A1 selected. And I am going to record the macro in two ways: the first with absolute references and the second with relative. So again I have displayed the Developer tab of the Ribbon by going to the Ribbon page of the Excel Preferences dialog box. So I will just click there, and now I can start recording my macro. I want to record it using absolute references, so I don't need to make any changes right now.

I'll click Record, and I'll type in the macro name of Absolute, click OK, and I am ready to go. First thing I am going to do is select the cell C3, which is two rows below and two columns to the right of the current active cell. And then on the Home tab, I'm going to change the font size to 18. Now I am going to click cell E5 again two below and to the right of the previous selected cell, and I am going to change the font to Cambria. Okay.

So we have that change. I am done making my changes, that's all I want to record, so I will go back to the Developer tab and click the Stop button. Okay. So I will undo my changes by pressing Command+Z, and I will click cell A1, and I am going to record the same macro, but this time I am going to use relative references, and I do that by selecting the Relative Reference button. When the Relative Reference button is highlighted, Excel keeps track of the offset from the previous cell that you selected when it records a macro, instead of the actual address of the cells.

So I am back in cell A1, I am ready to record, and again I am just going to do exactly the same actions. I will call this relative and press Return, which is equivalent to clicking OK in that dialog box. Go back to the Home tab, click cell C3, change the font size to 18, and then in cell E5 I am going to change the font to Cambria. That's all I want to do. And I will stop recording. And then I will undo my changes by pressing Command+Z and Command+Z, and I will click cell A1 again.

Now I am going to run both of the macros to show you how they are different. The first macro I will run will be the absolute macro, so instead of starting with cell A1 selected, I am going to start with cell C3 selected and then run the absolute macro to show you how it affects the worksheet. I will click macros, and then I want to run Absolute, click Run, and Excel affects the exact two same cells. I will now change the formatting of these cells back. If you affect a worksheet using a macro, you can no longer press Command+Z to back up your changes.

You can't undo them, in other words. So that means that you need to undo them by hand, so I will change the cell's formatting back to Calibri and the cell's formatting so that the font is 12 point. Great. I still have cell C3 selected. So let me show you what happens when I run the relative macro. On the Developer tab, click macros and click Relative - that's the macro I want to use - and I will click Run. When I do, you will see that instead of formatting cell C3 in 18 point and E5 in a different font, when I record it using relative references, Excel said, "Oh! Well, this is the starting cell, and then I need to move two rows and two columns to the side, so I will affect that one, and then I will move again and affect this cell." So that's the difference between relative and absolute references.

If you want to record a macro and you know the exact address of the cells you want to affect, you should use absolute references. If the cells you affect are always the same distance apart, you should use relative references. In the event you need to mix the two techniques as part of a longer procedure, you should record separate macros for the elements that require one or the other technique.

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This video is part of

Image for Excel for Mac 2011 Essential Training
Excel for Mac 2011 Essential Training

100 video lessons · 30205 viewers

Curt Frye
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 58s
    1. Welcome
      1m 16s
    2. Using the exercise files
      42s
  2. 20m 56s
    1. Exploring the Excel 2011 window
      4m 16s
    2. Introducing the Ribbon for Mac
      4m 44s
    3. Customizing the Ribbon
      4m 20s
    4. Setting program preferences
      3m 20s
    5. Getting help in Excel
      4m 16s
  3. 20m 4s
    1. Opening, creating, and saving workbooks
      5m 23s
    2. Setting workbook properties
      4m 14s
    3. Creating and modifying workbook templates
      4m 18s
    4. Managing workbooks across multiple versions of Excel
      6m 9s
  4. 1h 2m
    1. Selecting cells and groups of cells
      4m 58s
    2. Copying and pasting cell data
      2m 39s
    3. Entering data using AutoFill and other techniques
      4m 32s
    4. Inserting symbols and special characters
      5m 3s
    5. Creating an Excel table
      4m 43s
    6. Locating and changing data using Find and Replace
      4m 57s
    7. Restricting input using validation rules
      4m 42s
    8. Using lists to limit data entered into a cell
      2m 32s
    9. Sorting worksheet data
      3m 2s
    10. Creating a custom sort order
      3m 54s
    11. Filtering worksheet data
      4m 6s
    12. Inserting, moving, and deleting cells and cell ranges
      3m 50s
    13. Splitting and freezing rows and columns
      3m 51s
    14. Managing worksheets
      5m 28s
    15. Creating, editing, and deleting headers and footers
      4m 41s
  5. 1h 17m
    1. Introducing Excel formulas and functions
      3m 17s
    2. Adding a formula to a cell
      4m 0s
    3. Introducing arithmetic operators
      4m 13s
    4. Using absolute and relative cell references
      6m 29s
    5. Controlling how Excel copies and pastes formulas
      6m 5s
    6. Referring to Excel table data in formulas
      2m 3s
    7. Creating an AutoSum formula
      3m 22s
    8. Summarizing data on the status bar
      2m 22s
    9. Joining text in cells with concatenation
      3m 59s
    10. Summarizing data using an IF function
      6m 21s
    11. Summarizing data using SUMIF and other conditional functions
      5m 41s
    12. Creating formulas to count cells
      2m 37s
    13. Rounding cell values up and down
      4m 55s
    14. Finding data using VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP
      6m 33s
    15. Auditing formulas by identifying precedents and dependents
      3m 25s
    16. Managing Excel formula error indicators
      4m 42s
    17. Managing scenarios
      4m 59s
    18. Performing Goal Seek analysis
      2m 31s
  6. 45m 48s
    1. Applying fonts, background colors, and borders
      6m 7s
    2. Applying number and date formats to cells
      7m 1s
    3. Managing text alignment
      3m 56s
    4. Copying cell formats
      4m 2s
    5. Managing cell styles
      3m 16s
    6. Managing Office themes
      3m 31s
    7. Creating rule-based conditional formats
      3m 54s
    8. Defining Top 10 conditional formats
      4m 19s
    9. Defining data bar, color scale, and icon set conditional formats
      6m 6s
    10. Editing, ordering, and deleting conditional formats
      3m 36s
  7. 36m 55s
    1. Creating bar and column charts
      5m 26s
    2. Creating pie charts
      2m 32s
    3. Creating line charts
      4m 34s
    4. Creating XY (scatter) charts
      1m 49s
    5. Creating stock charts
      4m 11s
    6. Changing chart types and layouts
      2m 22s
    7. Changing the appearance of a chart
      4m 25s
    8. Managing chart axes and numbering
      2m 51s
    9. Adding trendlines to charts
      4m 14s
    10. Creating sparkline charts
      4m 31s
  8. 18m 39s
    1. Importing data from comma separated value (CSV) or text files
      4m 20s
    2. Connecting to an external data source
      2m 22s
    3. Using hyperlinks
      6m 1s
    4. Including an Excel workbook in another Office document
      3m 5s
    5. Linking to an Excel chart from another Office program
      2m 51s
  9. 26m 21s
    1. Creating and formatting shapes
      3m 10s
    2. Adding and adjusting images
      5m 38s
    3. Cropping, compressing, and removing image backgrounds
      4m 46s
    4. Creating SmartArt graphics
      5m 7s
    5. Creating WordArt
      2m 34s
    6. Aligning and layering objects
      5m 6s
  10. 29m 51s
    1. Introducing PivotTable reports
      3m 47s
    2. Creating a PivotTable report
      4m 37s
    3. Pivoting a PivotTable report
      3m 18s
    4. Managing subtotals and grand totals
      3m 23s
    5. Summarizing more than one data field
      1m 34s
    6. Changing the data field summary operation
      2m 40s
    7. Changing the data field number format
      2m 27s
    8. Filtering a PivotTable report
      2m 46s
    9. Applying a PivotTable style
      2m 20s
    10. Creating and editing styles
      2m 59s
  11. 26m 47s
    1. Checking spelling
      3m 32s
    2. Setting AutoCorrect and automatic Replace options
      3m 59s
    3. Managing workbook comments
      3m 40s
    4. Tracking and reviewing changes
      5m 12s
    5. Printing a worksheet or workbook
      3m 44s
    6. Setting and removing print areas
      2m 31s
    7. Exporting to other formats
      1m 33s
    8. Protecting a workbook
      2m 36s
  12. 23m 52s
    1. Running an existing macro
      4m 56s
    2. Recording a macro
      3m 56s
    3. Recording a macro using relative references
      6m 15s
    4. Renaming, viewing, and deleting macros
      2m 58s
    5. Adding comments to a macro
      2m 43s
    6. Turning off screen updating in a macro
      3m 4s
  13. 1m 1s
    1. Additional resources
      1m 1s

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