An Absolute Nightmare in Excel

Well, I should have been working all day, but decided to take a bit of time to relax and catch up on some reading (of RSS feeds). At the Lost in Technology blog, was a link to XtraNormal, where you can write, cast and direct an animated movie. That sounded like more fun than working, so off I went.

And here's the first (and probably last) installment in Excel Theatre. Please note the giant spreadsheet in the background. I think it adds to the tension in this dramatic presentation. Just so you know – the dialog is corny, the actors are wooden, the plot is weak and the costumes are pitiful. Other than that, it's pretty good. ;-)

Note: The animated actors had a tough time pronouncing INDIRECT, so I had to spell it IN DIE WRECKED in the script, to make it understandable. Fortunately, that seemed to help, and the key word is clearer in the video now.

The INDIRECT Function

If you haven't used INDIRECT before, it's a formula that returns a reference to a range, based on a text string. As the video pointed out, you can use an absolute reference to a cell, to "lock" the reference, and keep if from changing if you copy the formula to a different cell. However, if the referenced cell moves, the absolute reference changes to match the new location.

For example, in the screenshot below, cell C2 contains an absolute reference to cell A1, and cell C3 contains an INDIRECT formula that refers to cell A1.


If you insert a blank row at the top of the worksheet, the formula in cell C2 changes, and it now refers to cell A2. Because it's a text string, the reference in the INDIRECT formula doesn't change. It returns a zero because cell A1 is now empty.


Using the INDIRECT Function

You can use INDIRECT in dependent data validation lists, or to prevent a cell reference from being affected by a move, or create cell references from a combination of cell values and text.

For more information on the INDIRECT function, and examples of how to use it, please visit the INDIRECT Function page on my website.


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12 Responses

  1. Ken Puls says:

    That’s great! Curious though… how long did it take you to produce this?

  2. Thanks Dick! I might abandon programming and become a director.
    Ken, this is art — you can’t measure it in time. ;-) I didn’t keep track, but it was probably about 1-1/2 hours. Most of that was experimenting with the tools for the first time. Once you’re familiar with them, it would be pretty quick. Just type the dialog, add a few camera and action tools, and publish it.

  3. Ken Puls says:

    Wouldn’t that be a DIE WRECK TOR?

  4. Billy Gee says:

    I was not familiar with this function, and as useful as this new info is, it pales next to the cool video. Thanks!

  5. Thanks Billy, it was fun to make.

  6. Doug Glancy says:

    One dear full!

  7. Contextures Blog » Highlight Weekend Dates In Excel says:

    […] An Absolute Nightmare in Excel […]

  8. Debra,

    Besides being a helful entry, the video is really sweet. Less folks now will die in wrecks…

  9. Thanks Robert, I’m doing what I can to make the world safe for Excel users. ;-)

  10. sandraraven says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

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