## How to use the INDIRECT function

*Article updated on April 17, 2018*

The INDIRECT function returns the cell reference based on a text string and shows the content of that cell reference.

This function is volatile, use with caution.

### Excel Function Syntax

INDIRECT(*ref_text*, *[a1]*)

### Arguments

ref_text |
Required. A reference to a cell, a name defined as a reference, or a reference to a cell as a text string. |

[a1] |
Optional. TRUE is the default value and is evaluated to A1- style reference. FALSE represents R1C1-style reference. |

### Explaining Indirect function

This is what Microsoft tells you about the indirect function:

*C*ell A6 contains this formula:=INDIRECT(B6). If you enter a cell reference like B1 in cell B6, the formula in cell A6 becomes =B1 and it returns the value in cell B1. This animated picture explains it all.

Can it do more than that? The answer is of course yes but first a small warning, INDIRECT is a volatile function and extended use may slower your workbook considerably.

### Example 1 - Avoid automatically changing cell references

When you insert or delete a row or column in excel the cell references in formulas changes, even if you use absolute cell references. The Indirect function helps you solve that problem. The following picture demonstrates what happens with relative, absolute and indirect cell references when you insert a row.

### Example 2 - Sum a range you specify

Formula in cell E3:

Cell A1 contains C3:C5. Sum function sums values in cell C3:C5. If you change the value in cell F3 to C3:C6 it sums the values in cell range C3:C6.

### Example 3 - Dynamic cell ranges

A drop down list lets you select a quarter. The formula in cell G3 sums the corresponding values.

Formula in cell G3:

If you want to learn more about array formulas join Advanced excel course.

If you don´t know what to do during the holidays, make sure you check out these functions and custom functions.

### Functions I have written about

- Mod function
- Hyperlink example
- Randbetween and Rand functions
- IFERROR function
- Frequency function
- Sumproduct function
- Search and Find functions
- Mmult function
- Small and Large function
- Row function
- Countifs function
- If function
- Countif function
- Match function
- Index function
- Offset function

### User defined functions

You have also the possibility to build your own functions, they are *user defined functions*. They are made in the vb editor using vba. Here are a some custom functions I have built.

- Excel udf: Lookup and return multiple values concatenated into one cell
- Count the number of cells within a range that match multiple comma separated values
- Extract unique distinct values from a filtered table (udf and array formula)
- Excel udf: Reorganize data
- Excel udf: Looking up data in multiple cross reference tables
- Excel udf: Sumif across multiple sheets
- Excel udf: Import historical stock prices from yahoo – added features
- Excel recursive udf: List files in a folder and subfolders
- Excel udf: Filter unique distinct records (case sensitive)
- Excel udf: Filter unique distinct values (case sensitive)
- Excel udf: Combine cell ranges into a single range while eliminating blanks
- Excel udf: Word frequency
- Excel udf: Fuzzy lookups
- Excel udf: Find positive and negative amounts that net to zero
- Excel udf: Find numbers in sum
- Excel udf: List permutations without repetition
- Excel udf: Filter values existing only in one out of two ranges
- Excel udf: Filter common values between two cell ranges in excel
- Filter unique words from a range in excel (udf)
- Filter unique distinct words from a cell range in excel (udf)
- Filter duplicate words from a cell range in excel (udf)

### Download excel *.xlsx file

### Articles with the 'INDIRECT' Function

The following 7 articles have formulas that contain the INDIRECT function.

How to use a Table name in Data Validation Lists and Conditional Formatting formulas

David Hager gave this valuable comment about how to reference a table name in conditional formatting formulas: =INDIRECT("Table1[Start]") Watch this video to […]### Functions in 'Lookup and reference'

The INDIRECT function function is one of many functions in the 'Lookup and reference' category.