XL: Errors Sorting Cells That Contain References

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SYMPTOMS

In Microsoft Excel, when you sort a column of values that are the result of arithmetic operations based on relative references, you may receive #REF error values.

CAUSE

To correctly sort a range that includes cells with references, all references must be absolute references. Using relative references can result in errors because the references may become invalid when the cells are rearranged in the specified sort order.

For example, given these cells and sorting A1:C3 in ascending order with the sort key being cell A1
```   A1: 3  B1: =A3     C1: =\$A\$3
A2: 2  B2: =A2     C2: =\$A\$2
A3: 1  B3: =A1     C3: =\$A\$1
```
the resulting formulas are:
```   A1: 1  B1: =#REF!  C1: =\$A\$1
A2: 2  B2: =A2     C2: =\$A\$2
A3: 3  B3: =A5     C3: =\$A\$3
```
Note that cell B1 is now an invalid reference and that cell B3 has lost its reference to A3 and now refers to A5. The formulas in column C have been correctly sorted.

For additional information, please click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
70096 XL: Using FORMULA.CONVERT() to Change Relative/Absolute References

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Article ID: 40401 - Last Review: August 23, 2013 - Revision: 1.3
APPLIES TO
• Microsoft Excel 2.0 Standard Edition
• Microsoft Excel 2.01
• Microsoft Excel 2.1 Standard Edition
• Microsoft Excel 2.10c
• Microsoft Excel 2.10d
• Microsoft Excel 3.0 Standard Edition
• Microsoft Excel 3.0a
• Microsoft Excel 4.0 Standard Edition
• Microsoft Excel 4.0a
• Microsoft Excel 4.0c
• Microsoft Excel 5.0 Standard Edition
• Microsoft Excel 5.0c
• Microsoft Excel 5.0 Standard Edition
• Microsoft Excel 95 Standard Edition
• Microsoft Excel 97 Standard Edition
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