Excel 2010: What are Reference Styles?

Lesson 23: What are Reference Styles?


What are reference styles?

Every Excel spreadsheet contains rows and columns. Most of the time, columns are identified by letters (A, B, C), while rows are identified by numbers (1, 2, 3). In Excel, this is known as the A1 reference style. However, some prefer to use a different method in which columns are also identified by numbers. This is known as the R1C1 reference style.

Screenshot of Excel 2010R1C1 reference style vs. A1 reference style

While the R1C1 reference style is helpful for certain situations, you'll probably want to use the A1 reference style most of the time. This tutorial will use the A1 reference style. If you're currently using the R1C1 reference style, you'll need to turn it off.

To turn off the R1C1 reference style:

  1. Click the File tab to access Backstage view.
  2. Click Options.

    Screenshot of Excel 2010Clicking Options
  3. The Excel Options dialog box will appear. Click Formulas, uncheck the box next to R1C1 reference style, then click OK. Excel will now use the A1 reference style.

    Screenshot of Excel 2010Turning off the R1C1 reference style