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Understanding Cells and Ranges

Table of contents
  1. Range reference examples

A cell is a single element in a worksheet that can hold a value, some text, or a formula. The basic unit of work for any spreadsheet solution is the cell. A cell is identified by its address, which consists of its column letter and row number. For example, cell F8 is the cell in the sixth column, eighth row. Excel has a total of 1048576 rows and 16384 columns, total cells: 1048576*16384=17,179,869,184.

A group of one or more cells is called a range. You designate a range address by specifying its upper-left cell address and its lower-right cell address, separated by a colon.

Range reference examples

Range reference Description
A5 A range that consists of a single cell.
A1:C1 Three cells that occupy one row and three columns.
B1:B100 100 cells in column B.
A1:D5 20 cells (five rows by four columns).
A1:A1048576 An entire column of cells; this range also can be expressed as A:A.
B:B An entire column of cells; Column B.
A2:XFD2 An entire row of cells; this range also can be expressed as 2:2.
3:3 An entire row of cells; Row 3.
A1:XFD1048576 All cells in a worksheet. This range also can be expressed as either A:XFD or 1:1048576.
A1,C2 Two cells, A1 and C2.
A1:B2,C3:D3 Union two ranges A1:B2 and C3:D3 into one reference
A2:C4 B1:B5 Intersect range A2:C4 with range B1:B5, which is B2:B4.

For more information about Excel reference operators, see Use Calculation Operators in Excel Formulas.

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