How to Insert $ Sign in Excel Formula: A Step-by-Step Guide

Learning how to insert a $ sign in an Excel formula is crucial for fixing cell references. With this knowledge, you can create more robust and versatile spreadsheets. Here’s a quick guide to help you understand and use this feature effectively.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Insert $ Sign in Excel Formula

Inserting a $ sign in an Excel formula helps lock a cell reference, either entirely or partially. This tutorial will guide you through the steps to apply absolute and mixed cell references using the $ sign.

Step 1: Open your Excel spreadsheet

First, open your Excel spreadsheet where you want to apply the formula.

Ensure you have the file ready and loaded up in Excel. This step sets the stage for the following actions.

Step 2: Enter the formula that you wish to use

Type in the formula without the $ signs in the cell where you want to apply it.

For example, you could type "=A1+B1" into cell C1. This formula adds the values in cells A1 and B1.

Step 3: Identify the cell reference you want to lock

Find the part of the formula where you need to insert the $ sign to lock the reference.

Decide if you want to lock the row, column, or both. This will determine where to place the $ sign.

Step 4: Insert the $ sign in the formula

Click on the part of the formula where you want to place the $ sign and simply type it in.

For example, to lock both the row and column of A1, you would change "A1" to "$A$1". If you only want to lock the row or column, you would type "$A1" or "A$1", respectively.

Step 5: Press Enter to apply the formula

After inserting the $ signs, press Enter to apply the formula.

Your formula is now set with locked cell references. When you drag the formula to other cells, the locked references will not change.

Now, your Excel formula will accurately reference the cells you’ve locked, making sure that they don’t shift when copied or moved.

Tips for How to Insert $ Sign in Excel Formula

  • Test each formula: Make sure to test each formula after inserting the $ signs to ensure it works as expected.
  • Use shortcuts: Press the F4 key while editing a formula to quickly toggle between different reference types.
  • Know the difference: Understand the difference between absolute and mixed references; absolute references lock both the row and column, while mixed references lock either the row or column.
  • Keep it simple: Only use $ signs where necessary to keep formulas easy to read and manage.
  • Experiment: Practice with sample data to get comfortable using $ signs in various scenarios.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the $ sign do in an Excel formula?

The $ sign locks a specific cell reference, making it either an absolute or mixed reference. This helps prevent the reference from changing when you copy the formula.

Can I use the $ sign in any Excel formula?

Yes, you can use the $ sign in any Excel formula to lock cell references, whether it’s a simple addition or a complex formula.

How do I know which reference to lock?

It depends on your needs. If you want a reference to remain constant as you copy the formula to other cells, you should lock it. Decide if you need to lock the row, the column, or both.

Is there a shortcut for inserting the $ sign?

Yes, you can press the F4 key while editing a formula to cycle through the different reference types, including absolute and mixed references.

Can I remove the $ sign if I change my mind?

Absolutely! Simply edit the formula and delete the $ sign if you no longer need the reference locked.


  1. Open your Excel spreadsheet.
  2. Enter the formula.
  3. Identify the cell reference to lock.
  4. Insert the $ sign.
  5. Press Enter to apply.


Understanding how to insert a $ sign in an Excel formula is a game-changer for managing complex spreadsheets. It allows you to create formulas that are both flexible and resilient, ensuring that your data remains accurate when formulas are copied or moved.

By mastering this feature, you enhance your ability to handle various data analysis tasks with ease. You’ll find that your spreadsheets are not only more effective but also easier to manage.

For further reading, you might want to explore Excel’s other powerful features like conditional formatting and pivot tables. Both can significantly boost your efficiency and data analysis capabilities. So, dive in and start experimenting—your Excel skills will thank you!

Get Our Free Newsletter

How-to guides and tech deals

You may opt out at any time.
Read our Privacy Policy