# How to use the ISREF function

**What is the ISREF function?**

The ISREF function returns boolean value TRUE if value refers to a reference.

#### Table of Contents

## 1. Introduction

**Can the ISREF function handle error values?**

Yes, it returns FALSE in those cases.

**Can the ISREF function handle cell ranges/arrays?**

No, it returns only a boolean value based on the first value in the cell range. There is a workaround demonstrated in section 4 example 2 below.

**What is a cell reference?**

A cell reference lets you "fetch" and use values in other cells in a formula.

There are two types of cell references:

- A1-style reference
- R1C1 reference

The A1-style reference is the default style in Excel, it names columns by letters from A to Z. After Z it starts over with AA, AB, and so on until XFD. Rows are numbered from 1 to 1048576, older Excel versions use less row numbers.

The R1C1-style uses row number and column number like: R1C1, R2C5 and R10C15. Rows are labeled R1, R2, R3 and so on, columns are labeled C1, C2, C3 etc.

The A1-style reference notation is the most common one, here are some examples:

A1 - single cell reference on the same worksheet

A1:D5 - reference to a cell range on the same worksheet

Budget!Z3 - a single cell reference to worksheet Budget

'Budget 2050'!A3 - a single cell reference to a worksheet containing a space character

There are two types of cell references:

- Relative cell references
- Absolute cell references

The examples above are all relative cell references, they change accordingly if a cell is copied and pasted to another cell which absolute cell references do not.

The $ dollar character lets you an absolute cell reference meaning you can lock a cell reference horizontally, vertically or both. Here is one example:

A$1 has a relative column reference but an absolute row reference, this means that the column letter may change if the cell is copied and pasted to cells in another column than A.

**What is a Boolean value?**

A Boolean value in Excel is a value that can only be TRUE or FALSE. It represents binary logic and is the result of a logical expression using logical operators. There are some functions that also return TRUE or FALSE and the ISREF function is one of them.

**Why check if a cell reference is valid?**

The ISREF function lets you catch reference errors in formulas. You can also use it check if a named range exists, see the example below.

**Other related functions**

Excel Function and Arguments | Description |
---|---|

INDIRECT(ref_text, [a1]) | Returns reference specified by text in cell |

OFFSET(reference, rows, cols, [height], [width]) | Returns cell offset from reference cell |

INDEX(array, row_num, [column_num]) | Returns value in array based on indices |

SHEET(value) | Returns sheet number for given reference |

SHEETS(index) | Returns sheet name based on index |

ADDRESS(row, column, [abs], [a1], [sheet]) | Returns cell address text |

## 2. Syntax

ISREF(*value*)

value |
Required. The value you want to check for a reference. |

## 3. Example 1

The first value in cell B3 is B2 which is a valid cell reference, the ISREF function returns TRUE.

Formula in cell B3:

The second value demonstrated in cell B4 is Sheet1!A3 which is a valid cell reference, the ISREF function returns TRUE. Sheet1!A3 contains the worksheet name, in this case, Sheet1. The exclamation mark separates the worksheet name and the cell reference, it is needed in order to be a valid cell reference to another worksheet.

The third value demonstrated in cell B5 is #REF! which is an Excel error. The #REF error, also known as the "Reference Error," occurs when a formula or function in your Excel worksheet is trying to reference a cell or range that doesn't exist or is not valid. The ISREF function returns FALSE, #REF! is not a valid cell reference.

The fourth value demonstrated in cell B6 is "AAW" which the function interprets as a text value. The double quotes makes the ISREF function evaluate all values as text values even if they are valid cell references. Use the INDIRECT function to successfully process values enclosed in double quotes.

The fifth value demonstrated in cell B7 is "A2" which the function interprets as a text value because it is enclosed in double quotes. The ISREF function returns FALSE even though A2 is a valid cell reference. Here is how to get it to identify the value properly: =ISREF(INDIRECT("A2")) returns TRUE.

The sixth value demonstrated in cell B8 is 5 which the ISREF function evaluates to FALSE. 5 is not a valid cell reference.

## 4. Example 2

This example shows how to extract all valid cell references from cell range B3:B10. The source range B3:B10 contains: B2, 'Ex 2'!A3, #REF!, AAW, A2, 5, 5:5, Sheet1!A1

The source values are in cell range B3:B10 which requires us to use the INDIRECT function. The data you want to verify as valid cell references is located in cells B3 through B10 which means you'll need to employ the INDIRECT function to point to this specific range, cell by cell.

Formula in cell D3:

This formula is filtering a range of cells to only show those that contain valid references.

Here's how it works:

- The BYROW function applies the LAMBDA function to each cell in the range B3:B10.
- The LAMBDA function takes each cell value a and converts it into a reference using the INDIRECT function.
- The ISREF function checks if the resulting reference is valid (i.e., points to an existing cell or range).
- The FILTER function then filters the original range B3:B10 to only include cells where the ISREF function returns TRUE, meaning the cell contains a valid reference.

The formula in cell D3 returns the following array: {"B2";"'Ex 2'!A3";"A2";"5:5";"Sheet1!A1"}

#REF!, AAW, and 5 are excluded because they are not valid cell references.

## 5. Example 3

ISREF function - check if named range exists

The following formula checks if the named range "Revenue" exists in you workbook.

## 6. ISREF function not working

The ISREF function returns boolean value FALSE if the cell reference is enclosed in double quotes.

### Functions in 'Information' category

The ISREF function function is one of 19 functions in the 'Information' category.

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