How To Reference Cells in Google Sheets

Last Updated on October 31, 2023 by Jake Sheridan

In this tutorial, you will learn how to reference cells in Google Sheets.

How To Reference Cells in Google Sheets

The ability to reference cells in a spreadsheet is an essential skill to master when using Google Sheets. Referencing cells allows you to use the value of a cell in another cell or formula.

For example, you may want to reference the value of a cell in a formula or copy the value from one cell to another.

Users can create different kinds of references. For example, a reference can point to a single cell or a range of cells. A reference can even copy data from another sheet.

In this guide, we will show you how to reference cells in Google Sheets. We will also explain how to use absolute references and when they might be useful.

How To Use Cell References in Google Sheets

Here’s how to use cell references in Google Sheets.

Step 1

First, select a cell where you want to add a reference. Click on the formula bar to begin typing a new formula.

Step 2

Type the equal sign to indicate that we’ll be using the formula.

Google Sheets will not evaluate cell references if there is no equal sign at the start of the formula.

Step 3

You may either type the cell address or use your cursor to select the cell you want to reference.

You may also create a reference to an entire range. Simply select the start of the range and drag the cursor until the entire range is selected.

Step 4

If you want to return the value of an entire cell range, we’ll need to add opening and closing curly braces around our reference.

Step 5

Absolute references are references that do not change when you copy the formula to another cell, while relative references change depending on where the formula is copied.

By default, cell references are relative and the values change based on the relative position of rows and columns. This might not be ideal for some cell references that you prefer to be fixed to a single value.

We can create an absolute reference by adding the ‘$’ symbol before the row number or column letter of our cell reference.

Adding absolute references are useful if you want to maintain the row or column when using the Google Sheets AutoFill feature.

Step 6

Lastly, we can also reference a cell value in another sheet.

Start the reference with the name of the Sheet followed by the ‘!’ character. After the ‘!’, begin typing the cell reference as usual.


This guide should be everything you need to reference cells in various ways in a Google Sheets spreadsheet.

You may create a copy of this example spreadsheet to test it out on your own.