Video Lesson: Absolute & Relative Referencing

Absolute and Relative Cell Referencing

Note: This video was originally the 3rd lesson in the plan, but due to the comments regarding it being too confusing at that level, I have moved it to the Intermediate section effective 3/23/17.

This video tutorial focuses on Absolute vs. Relative cell referencing within Excel.  You likely know it as the dollar sign ($) used in functions/formulas (for example, C5 vs $C$5).

There is also a quick demonstration of the video using a VLOOKUP formula.  The VLOOKUP formula is explained in more detail in these two lessons here and here, but the example in this video gives a basic understanding of how it works in Excel.

Update 5-22: I’ve noticed some users (especially those with Macs) have had difficulty viewing this video.  Since it is one of the older videos, I will be re-recording it and adding information so that it is comparable to more recent videos.

If you’re following the Lesson Guide, next up is Math & Statistical Functions (e.g. SUM, AVERAGE)

57 thoughts on “Video Lesson: Absolute & Relative Referencing

  1. Thank you very much for these vídeos! Many people charge for this some thousands of dollars! The quality is good enough for those who are at least self learners. Congratulations!!

  2. Hi Ben,

    Thank you for the videos. As a graduating college student, I feel so weak in excel. I don’t know much about it. The lessons have given me a nice look into it, and I feel good about following through your lessons! This will potentially land me a job in finance, which is what I am looking for. Thank you!!!
    I am just a little curious, why are you giving free excel lessons?

  3. Hi, thanks for your tutorials. I am an absolute beginner, and the first two were fantastic. This video, however, as the third in the suggested series, was like being thrown into the deep end not knowing how to swim. I didn’t have a point of reference from which to grasp the information, had no idea how this was applicable to anything (i.e. why you’d want to autofill the same numbers over and over with the $ method), and the steps moved entirely too fast. I’d love to see a third video in the series that follows the “beginner” methodology more, like you did in the first two. This one was just too confusing. Sorry 😦

  4. Hi!

    You do a great job and are very knowledgeable! You have given me many good, tangible ideas for teaching my students. I really like your videos overall with the exception of the placement of this one. I think this one should belongs in the advanced area.

    Thanks for doing this!

  5. Everything said was actually very logical. But, what about this?
    suppose you added a little content? I am not suggesting your content isn’t good, however what if you added a post title
    that grabbed people’s attention? I mean Video Lesson: Absolute & Relative Referencing |
    Free Excel Training! is a little plain. You ought to peek at Yahoo’s
    home page and see how they create post headlines to grab people
    to click. You might try adding a video or a related pic or two to grab readers interested about everything’ve written. Just my opinion, it could bring
    your posts a little livelier.

  6. I don’t understand why you are using a vlookup in a beginner’s course (you even said that most people don’t even know what a vlookup is) and why you are therafter spending 5 minutes messing up your vlookup.

    • Hey Anonymous,

      Thanks for the constructive criticism. Actually this is one of the oldest / first videos I recorded and at the time I wasn’t entirely sure which way the course was going so I probably should have used a different method to show Absolute and Relative cell referencing.

      Sorry if you felt your time was wasted with this lesson, but hopefully the message about cell referencing comes across.

      Here’s another site that goes over the difference between Absolute and Relative cell referencing:



      • On the flip side, it never hurts to get exposed to something advanced you want to eventually understand, even if you don’t get it now.

        That way, when it’s introduced later, you’ll already have had that exposure, and things will click even more.

        Always a positive side to something.



  7. Hi, I do believe this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going
    to come back yet again since I bookmarked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue
    to guide other people.

    michael kors handbags outlet

  8. Why don’t you use Youtube? I have a PC, chrome, everything updated and half these videos freeze a few minutes in for no reason.

    • Freeze on a video can be a hardware video card problem, a video driver problem, or a internet speed problem, good luck fixing it – this is a very good training video on Excel to watch

  9. Hi,
    Your videos are very well done. I could not open the current video with IE but it worked with Google Chrome.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and taking the time and effort to create such useful videos.

  10. Why did u make the totals of the vlookup table 1 row short of the source table? Just curious if it wasn’t accidental or some mysterious clever reason.

  11. The latest version of Firefox appears unstable with the flash plugins. Couldn’t view this video in Firefox, but it works just fine in IE.

  12. I love this website! But I didn’t fully understand this lesson. I did a VLOOKUP course on Microsoft’s support website, I thought I got it. But in this lesson, I don’t understand what you are trying to do with the second table. I have looked at the formula in the downloadable table so I see the arguments but the goal of the second table is still not clear to me.

      • I don’t have any problems playing it. It seems the people who I’ve heard have a problem are using Mac’s.

        I’ll try to re-upload and/or re-render the video and see if that fixes it.

        In the meantime, you can try going to the Vimeo page and downloading the video file. It can be found here:

        There is a download link underneath the description.

        Hope that helps!


  13. Pingback: A Complete Introduction to Excel |

  14. Pingback: A Complete Introduction to Excel |

  15. Happy to have found your series, Ben! Great stuff! I’m not having problems viewing the videos, except this one keeps crashing my firefox browser a second after hitting play.

    • Hi Adriana,

      Yes, the Excel workbook that is reviewed in the video can be found in the Master Workbook. Here’s a screenshot where you can see that it is the spreadsheet entitled “9 – Referencing”:

      Let me know if you still have problems.


  16. Thank you! Toggling between this video and the naming video until I really get it all into my head, and move it to my bag of Excel tools!

Post any comments, feedback or questions below!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s