# How to use the OFFSET function

The OFFSET function returns a reference to a range that is a given number of rows and columns from a given reference.

### Excel Function Syntax

OFFSET(*reference*,*rows*,*columns*,[*height*],[*width*])

### Arguments

reference |
Required. A cell reference from which you want to start. |

rows |
Required. The number of rows you want to move from the start cell. The number can be positive or negative. |

columns |
Required. The number of columns you want to move from the start cell. This argument can also be a positive or negative number. |

[height] |
Optional. The number of rows you want to include to the returned reference. Must be a positive number. |

[width] |
Optional. The number of columns you want to include to the returned reference. Must be a positive number. |

### Comments

If [*height*] and [*width*] arguments are not used OFFSET function returns a cell reference with the same number of rows and columns as argument *reference.*

The OFFSET function returns #REF error if the returning cell reference is outside the cell grid.

### Examples

In this post, I am going to provide some basic examples to demonstrate how the OFFSET function works. I also show practical examples where I use the OFFSET function. To be honest, in most cases I prefer using the INDEX function. The offset functions are volatile and extensive use in a workbook may slow down calculations noticeably.

### Table of contents

- OFFSET function
- Basic demonstration
- ROW function and OFFSET function
- Explaining row and height arguments. OFFSET function returns a reference to a cell range
- How to enter an array formula
- SUBTOTAL and OFFSET functions
- Named ranges and the OFFSET function
- Create a cell reference to a cell range
- Get tutorial file

## 2. Example 1 - Basic demonstration

This example uses only the two first arguments in the OFFSET function, row, and column.

B3 is the start cell. 1 row below B3 is B4. 1 column to the right of B4 is C4.

The OFFSET function returns a cell reference to cell C4. Cell C4 contains number 22.

## 3. Example 2 - Row function and offset function

This example shows that the offset function returns a cell reference.

ROW(reference) returns the row number of a reference. Combining the ROW and OFFSET functions demonstrates that the OFFSET function returns a cell reference.

## 4. Example 3 - Explaining row and height arguments. OFFSET function returns a reference to a cell range

The Offset function can also return a reference to a cell range. For this to work, you need to enter the formula as an array formula.

**Array formula in cell range B9:B10:**

The optional arguments height and width are used in this example. The height is 2 and the width is 1, which is 2 cells high and 1 cell wide.

The array formula returns a reference to a cell range with the same width and height as the two last arguments.

## 5. How to enter an array formula

- Select cell range B9:B10
- Press with left mouse button on in formula bar

- Paste array formula to formula bar
- Press and hold CTRL + SHIFT
- Press Enter
- Release all keys.

## 6. Example 4 - SUBTOTAL and OFFSET functions

This example shows how to determine if a row in an excel defined table is hidden or visible.

**Array formula in cell range C7:C9:**

The technique is described here by David Hager and John Walkenbach: Excel Experts E-letter

I have written a couple of posts and developed this technique one step further:

- Count unique distinct values in a filtered table
- Extract unique distinct values from a filtered table (udf and array formula)
- Excel table: Filter unique distinct values (array formula)
- Vlookup visible data in a table and return multiple values

## 7. Named ranges and the OFFSET function

You can use the OFFSET function to create a dynamic named range. First I want to explain what named ranges is and how you can use them.

So what is a named range? You can select a cell or a range and name it. When you enter the arguments in a function you can use the name instead of the corresponding cell reference. Why? This makes it easier to read and understand a function. Compare this function =Sum(C1:C11) to this =Sum(Sales2011). The latter is easier to understand.

What is dynamic named range? It is a cell range that expands automatically when new values are added.

**Named range formula:**

COUNTA counts the number of cells in a range that are not empty. COUNTA(Sheet5!$B$4:$B$100) returns 3.

OFFSET(Sheet5!$B$4, 0,0,COUNTA(Sheet5!$B$4:$B$100))

becomes

=OFFSET(Sheet5!$B$4, 0,0,3)

and returns a reference to cell range B4:B6.

Read more about named ranges:

Create a dynamic named range in excel

## 8. Create a cell reference to a cell range

The image above shows a formula that uses two cell references to create another cell ref to a cell range.

The first cell ref is A3, the second cell reference is created by the OFFSET function, and the colon creates a new cell reference pointing to a cell range.

Array formula in cell B3:

### Explaining formula in cell B3

#### Step 1 - Create cell ref

OFFSET(A3,5,0)

returns A8.

#### Step 2 - Concatenate cell refs

A3:OFFSET(A3,5,0)

returns

A3:A8.

#### Step 3 - Calculate row numbers based on cell ref

The ROW function returns a number representing the row for a given cell ref, in this case, the cell ref is pointing to a cell range and the formula returns an array of row numbers from 3 to 8.

ROW(A3:OFFSET(A3,5,0))

### 'OFFSET' function examples

The following 21 articles contain the OFFSET function.

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## Functions in this article

### Functions in 'Lookup and reference' category

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

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