Excel Tutorial: How To Keep Numbers From Changing In Excel


Have you ever entered a number into an Excel spreadsheet, only to have it change unexpectedly? It's a common frustration for many users, but fortunately, there is a solution. In this tutorial, we will discuss how to prevent numbers from changing in Excel, and why it's important to keep numbers static in certain situations.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the difference between relative, absolute, and mixed cell references is crucial for keeping numbers static in Excel.
  • Using the $ symbol to create absolute references can prevent numbers from changing when copying formulas.
  • Named ranges provide a convenient way to keep numbers static and can improve the readability of formulas.
  • Data validation can be used to restrict input and maintain static numbers in Excel spreadsheets.
  • Locking cells is important for protecting sensitive or static data from being changed accidentally.

Understanding Cell References

When working with formulas and functions in Excel, it's important to understand the different types of cell references and how they can impact your calculations. Using the correct cell reference type can help you keep numbers from changing when you copy or fill the formula to other cells.

A. Explain the difference between relative, absolute, and mixed cell references
  • Relative cell references: When you use a relative cell reference in a formula, it will change when the formula is copied or filled to other cells. For example, if you have a formula that adds the contents of cell A1 to cell B1 and you copy it to cell C1, the formula will now add the contents of cell A2 to cell B2.
  • Absolute cell references: Absolute references, on the other hand, do not change when the formula is copied or filled to other cells. They are denoted by adding a dollar sign ($) before the column letter and row number (e.g. $A$1).
  • Mixed cell references: Mixed references allow either the row or column to be absolute, while the other is relative. For example, $A1 will keep the column fixed but allow the row to change, and A$1 will allow the column to change but keep the row fixed.

B. Provide examples of each type of cell reference

For example, if you have the formula =A1+B$1*C2, A1 is a relative reference, B$1 is an absolute reference, and C2 is a relative reference.

C. Discuss the importance of using absolute and mixed cell references to keep numbers from changing
  • Absolute and mixed cell references are crucial when working with fixed values or constants in your Excel sheets. Using these types of references can prevent unintended changes to your formulas and ensure that your calculations remain accurate.
  • When creating templates or models that require specific constants or fixed values, absolute and mixed references are essential to maintain the integrity of your data and formulas.

Using the $ Symbol

When working with formulas and cell references in Excel, you may encounter situations where you need to keep certain numbers from changing. This is where the $ symbol comes in handy, as it allows you to create absolute references in Excel.

A. Explain how to use the $ symbol to create absolute references in Excel

An absolute reference in Excel means that the cell reference remains constant, even when copied to other cells. This is useful when you want to refer to a specific cell or range of cells in your formulas.

B. Provide step-by-step instructions on how to apply the $ symbol to cell references

  • Select the cell - Click on the cell where you want to create the formula.
  • Start typing the formula - Begin typing your formula, and when you reach the point where you want to reference a specific cell, type the cell reference (e.g., A1).
  • Apply the $ symbol - Place the $ symbol in front of the column letter and/or row number to make it an absolute reference. For example, $A$1 will make both the column and row absolute, while A$1 will only make the row absolute, and $A1 will only make the column absolute.

C. Offer tips for effectively using the $ symbol to prevent numbers from changing

  • Use absolute references for constants - When using a constant value in your formulas, such as a tax rate or conversion factor, use absolute references to ensure that the value remains constant.
  • Lock cell references when copying formulas - When copying formulas to other cells, you can use absolute references to lock specific cell references, ensuring that they do not change as you copy the formula to different cells.
  • Combine with relative references - In some cases, you may want to use a combination of absolute and relative references in your formulas. This allows for flexibility while still keeping certain cell references constant.

Using Named Ranges

Named ranges are a powerful feature in Excel that allows you to assign a name to a cell or a range of cells. This can be incredibly useful for keeping track of important data and ensuring that numbers do not change inadvertently.

Explain the concept of named ranges in Excel

Named ranges allow you to give a specific name to a cell or a range of cells. This name can then be used in formulas and functions in place of the cell references, making it easier to understand and manage complex worksheets.

Provide examples of how to define and use named ranges for static numbers

To define a named range, simply select the cell or range of cells you want to name, then go to the Formulas tab and click on Define Name. Enter a name for the range and click OK. Once the named range is defined, you can use it in formulas by simply typing the name instead of the cell reference.

  • Example: If you have a constant value like a tax rate (e.g., 7.5%) that you want to use in multiple calculations, you can define a named range called "tax_rate" and use it in your formulas. This way, if the tax rate ever changes, you only need to update it in one place.
  • Example: You can also use named ranges to reference static numbers, such as a fixed budget amount or a target sales figure, to ensure that these numbers do not change unintentionally.

Discuss the benefits of using named ranges to keep numbers from changing

The use of named ranges can significantly reduce the risk of errors in your worksheets by preventing accidental changes to important numbers. Additionally, it can make your formulas and functions more readable and easier to understand, especially in complex spreadsheets with large amounts of data.

Utilizing Data Validation

When working with Excel, it's important to maintain the integrity of your data and prevent numbers from changing unintentionally. One way to achieve this is by utilizing data validation.

Explain how to utilize data validation to restrict input and maintain static numbers

Data validation is a feature in Excel that allows you to set specific criteria for what can be entered into a cell. By using data validation, you can restrict input to a certain range of numbers or text, ensuring that the values remain static and accurate.

Provide step-by-step instructions on setting up data validation in Excel

To set up data validation in Excel, follow these steps:

  • 1. Select the cell or range of cells where you want to apply data validation.
  • 2. Click on the "Data" tab in the Excel ribbon.
  • 3. In the "Data Tools" group, click on "Data Validation."
  • 4. In the Data Validation dialog box, choose the type of validation you want to apply (e.g., whole number, decimal, list, etc.).
  • 5. Enter the specific criteria for the validation, such as a range of numbers or a list of allowable values.
  • 6. Click "OK" to apply the data validation to the selected cells.

Offer tips for effectively using data validation to prevent numbers from changing

To effectively use data validation to prevent numbers from changing, consider the following tips:

  • Use dropdown lists: Instead of allowing free-form input, consider using a dropdown list to restrict the available options for a cell.
  • Set specific numeric ranges: If you want to maintain static numbers within a certain range, use data validation to restrict input to that range.
  • Regularly review and update validation criteria: As your data and requirements change, make sure to review and update your data validation criteria to ensure that it continues to meet your needs.
  • Combine with other features: Consider combining data validation with other Excel features, such as protecting cells or sheets, to further safeguard your data from unwanted changes.

Locking Cells

Locking cells in Excel is a crucial step in preventing unwanted changes to your data. Whether you have sensitive information or static data that should remain unchanged, locking cells can help maintain the integrity of your spreadsheet.

Explain how to lock cells in Excel to prevent changes

When you lock cells in Excel, you can control which cells are editable and which are not. This is particularly useful when you have a spreadsheet with formulas, and you want to ensure that the calculated values remain intact. Locking cells also prevents accidental overwriting of important data.

Discuss the importance of protecting cells with sensitive or static data

Protecting cells with sensitive or static data is essential for maintaining data accuracy and confidentiality. By locking these cells, you can prevent unauthorized access or changes, ensuring that your data remains secure and reliable.

Provide step-by-step instructions for locking cells in Excel

Here are the step-by-step instructions for locking cells in Excel:

  • Select the cells you want to lock: Click and drag to select the cells or range of cells you want to lock.
  • Right-click on the selected cells: Right-click on the selected cells and choose "Format Cells" from the context menu.
  • Go to the "Protection" tab: In the "Format Cells" dialog box, go to the "Protection" tab.
  • Check the "Locked" box: In the "Protection" tab, check the "Locked" box to lock the selected cells.
  • Click "OK": Click "OK" to apply the changes and close the "Format Cells" dialog box.
  • Protect the sheet: Go to the "Review" tab, click on "Protect Sheet," and set a password to protect the sheet. This will prevent others from making changes to the locked cells.

By following these steps, you can effectively lock cells in Excel to prevent changes and safeguard your sensitive or static data.


It is crucial to keep numbers from changing in Excel to ensure accuracy and consistency in your data analysis. In this tutorial, we discussed several methods to achieve this, including using the $ symbol in cell references, utilizing the INDIRECT function, and employing the paste special feature. By applying these tips, you can maintain static numbers in your own Excel spreadsheets and prevent unintended changes that may impact your calculations and decision-making.

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