Excel Guides

Relative References when Recording Macros in Excel

When recording macros in Excel, relative references ensure that the macro will work correctly no matter where it is run. By default, all references in a macro are absolute, meaning that they will always point to the same cell, even if the macro is run in a different location. Relative references, on the other hand, adjust themselves based on the position of the cell where the macro is run. This makes them much more versatile, and is generally considered best practice when recording macros.

To use relative references in your macros, you first need to enable them in the Macro Recorder options. To do this, open the Macro Recorder dialog box (found under Tools > Macro in Excel 2003, or View > Macros in Excel 2007), and check the Use Relative References option. With this option enabled, all subsequent recordings will use relative references.

Once you've enabled relative references, you can start recording your macro. As you perform actions in Excel, each cell reference will be recorded relative to the cell where the macro is started. For example, if you start recording a macro in cell A1 and then move to cell A10, any cell references will be recorded as "A10" instead of "A1".

This may not seem like a big deal, but it makes a huge difference when running macros. Consider a simple macro that copies data from one sheet to another. If this macro was recorded with absolute references, it would only work if the data was always in the same place (i.e. if the source data was always in column A and the destination data was always in column B). But if the macro was recorded with relative references, it would work no matter where the data was located.

In general, it's a good idea to use relative references whenever possible. There are a few exceptions where absolute references may be necessary (such as when working with named ranges), but these are relatively rare. For most purposes, relative references will give you more flexibility and make your macros more reusable.

Move beyond 

Excel

Get started with Causal today.
Build models effortlessly, connect them directly to your data, and share them with interactive dashboards and beautiful visuals.