What are Reference Styles?

Change reference style in Excel spreadsheets with this free lesson. Also use the Excel reference style feature to better work with data.

What are reference styles?

Every Excel spreadsheet contains rows and columns. Most of the time, columns are identified by letters (A, B, C), and 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. In the image below, the spreadsheet on the left is using the R1C1 reference style, and the spreadsheet on the right is using the A1 reference style.

Screenshot of Excel 2007

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: