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How to Use Offset Function in Excel (Easy & Fast)

August 7, 2023 786 views

Excel is one of the best software used for data analysis and processing. It has many built-in functions to make your life easier. One of the most important functions is the Excel offset function. This function is used to reference a particular row or rows and return the data contained in that particular row or rows.

What is the Excel offset function, and how to use it?  This article will give you an easy tutorial on using the Excel offset function.

Part 1. 5 Easy Ways to Use Excel Offset Function

What is Offset Function in Excel?

The Excel OFFSET function is a powerful and versatile function used to return a reference to a range of cells offset by a starting cell reference. It is commonly used in various scenarios, such as dynamic range selection, creating rolling averages, and handling data that changes or expands over time.

The syntax of the OFFSET function is as follows:

Below is the explanation of the above formula;

reference: The starting cell from which the offset is calculated.

rows: The number of rows to move away from the reference cell.

cols: The number of columns to move away from the reference cell. It can be a positive value (to move to the right) or a negative value (to move to the left).

height: (Optional) The height of the range to be returned.

width: (Optional) The width of the range to be returned.

1. Using Excel OFFSET with SUM Functions

Microsoft Excel allows you to use the OFFSET function in combination with different other functions. You can use the OFFSET function with the SUM function to perform dynamic calculations on a range of cells.

Let's look at an OFFSET function example with the SUM function:

Assume we have a dataset in cells A1 to A5, and we want to calculate the sum of the last three cells in the dataset using the OFFSET and SUM functions.

Explanation:

Here is the formula with the explanation used in this example.

=SUM(OFFSET(A1,COUNT(A:A)-3.0.3.1))

  • COUNT(A: A): counts column A's total number of non-empty cells. In this example, it returns 5 since the dataset has five data points.

  • COUNT(A: A) - 3: calculates the offset to move three rows up from the last cell, A5. In this case, it returns 2.

  • The OFFSET function starts from cell A1 and moves 2 rows up (to A3) since we want to include the last three values.

  • 3 is the height of the range so that the OFFSET function will return three cells (A3, A4, A5).

  • 1 is the width of the range (one column).

The OFFSET function generates a reference to the range A3:A5, and the SUM function calculates the sum of these cells, resulting in the value 120 (30 + 40 + 50).

As the data changes or new values are added, the formula will automatically adjust the range to include the last three values in the dataset. Suppose the value in cell A5 changes to 60. The offset function will automatically update the sum to 130. This is the exclusive feature of using the OFFSET with the SUM, it updates the SUM dynamically.

2. Using OFFSET Function with AVERAGE, MAX, MIN

Using the Excel offset function, you can also calculate the Average, MAX, and MIN of the data given in the above example.

  • To calculate the AVERAGE of the last three cells, you can use this formula

=AVERAGE(OFFSET(A1,COUNT(A:A)-3,0,3,1))

You can see the usage of OFFSET function with the AVERAGE function in the below example.

  • You can also use this formula to get the maximum value of the last three cells using the MAX function with the OFFSET, as shown in the figure below.

=MAX(OFFSET(A1,COUNT(A:A)-3,0,3,1))

  • Similarly, you can use the MIN function with OFFSET to get the minimum value of the last three cells.

=MIN(OFFSET(A1,COUNT(A:A)-3,0,3,1))

You can see the results in the figure given below.

  • In the figure given below, we have depicted all three functions with the SUM function.

3. Using OFFSET Formula to Create a Dynamic Range

You can use the OFFSET function to define a range that automatically adjusts as data changes or expands. Dynamic ranges are useful for scenarios where your data set varies in size and values and you want formulas or charts to include all relevant data without manually updating the range references.

Let's take an example. Assume you have a list of sales data where you want to create a dynamic range to calculate the total sales. The data is in column B, and you want to calculate the total sales.

The OFFSET function generates a reference to the range B2:B5, which includes all the sales values. The SUM function then calculates the sum of these values, resulting in 550 (100 + 150 + 120 + 180).

Whenever, new data is entered in this sheet, the dynmaic range will automatically expands to include the new data. It will also automatically update the total sale calculations.

4. Using OFFSET with VLOOKUP

VLOOKUP is a robust function of Excel which is used for searching a ceratin value vertically across the sheet. Using the OFFSET function in combination with VLOOKUP can be a powerful way to perform dynamic lookups in Excel. It allows you to adjust the range for the VLOOKUP function based on changing data, providing more flexibility and adaptability. Let's walk through an example of how to use OFFSET with VLOOKUP:

Assume you have a table of employees data and want to perform a VLOOKUP to find the department of a specific employee. The employee name will be entered in cell E3. The data is in columns A (Employee Name) and B (Department); the table starts in row 2. You can use the below formula to perform your desired operation.

=VLOOKUP(E3, OFFSET($A$2, 0, 0, COUNTA($A:$A)-1, 2), 2, FALSE)

Explanation:

  • E3: This is the cell where you enter the employee name you want to find the department.

  • $A$2: This is the starting cell of the range for the OFFSET function. We start from cell A2, which is the first cell with employee names.

  • 0 and 0: These are the row and column offsets, both set to zero. This means the starting cell remains unchanged.

  • COUNTA($A:$A)-1: The COUNTA function counts the number of non-empty cells in column A. Since we want to exclude the header row, we subtract 1 from the count. In this example, four non-empty cells are in column A (A2 to A5).

  • 2: This is the width of the range (two columns). We want to include the Employee Name and Department columns for the VLOOKUP.

The OFFSET function generates a reference to the range A2:B5, which includes all the employee names and their respective departments. The VLOOKUP function then searches for the employee name entered in cell E3 within this range and returns the corresponding department.

For example, if you enter "Sarah" in cell E3, the formula will look up "Sarah" in the range A2:A5 and return "Finance" from the corresponding cell in the Department column (column B).

As you add more employees or update the data, the dynamic range will adjust automatically, allowing the VLOOKUP to continue working correctly without modifying the formula manually.

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Part 2. Best Free Alternative - WPS Office

What is WPS Office?

WPS Office is an incredible office solution for all your office needs. It is available for all platforms, including Windows, Linux, and Mac. WPS Office is also compatible with all file formats of Microsoft Office, LibreOffice, and Open Office. You can download WPS Office for free from its official website. WPS Office includes Writer, Presentation, Spreadsheet, and PDF software to perform all your office tasks.

WPS Spreadsheet or Excel is a powerful and fully featured data analysis and processing software. You can easily open all MS Excel files with WPS Spreadsheet.

How to Use Offset Function in WPS Office?

WPS Spreadsheet has many built-in templates and functions to solve your daily problems conveniently. You can use the Excel Offset function in WPS Spreadsheet in simple and easy steps.

  • Open your worksheet with WPS Office.

  • Select your desired data and write the offset function formula in the desired cell as

=OFFSET(reference, rows, cols, [height], [width])

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the difference between the index and offset function?

The offset function moves from a certain starting point by a given number of rows and columns, while the Index function finds a cell at the intersection of a row and column.

2. Is offset more efficient than index match?

The INDEX function is faster than the Offset function as it is non-volatile and speeds up the calculation.

3. Do WPS Office supports the dynamic offset function?

Yes, WPS Office supports all Offset functions, including dynamic offset functions.

4. Which is the best Excel software?

WPS Office is the best Excel software available nowadays. It is free to download and use.

The Best Excel Software To Use Offset Function - Wrap Up

In this article, we have discussed the usage and different variants of the Offset function in Excel. We have also discussed WPS Office. WPS Office is the best Office software available in the market. You can download and use WPS Office for free. WPS Spreadsheet is a robust, multi-functional Excel solution with numerous built-in templates and functions. You can download WPS Office from its official website for free.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.