Excel Formulas: Mastering Ratios with Cell References

Calculating ratios in Excel is a breeze once you get the hang of it. You’ll be using cell references, which means you’ll be telling Excel where to look for the numbers you want to use. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly how to calculate ratios using cell references, and you’ll be able to do it quickly and accurately.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Calculate Ratios with Cell References

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand what we’re aiming to achieve. We’re going to use cell references to tell Excel which numbers to use in our ratio calculation, and then we’ll format it to show the ratio in the way we want.

Step 1: Identify the Numbers You Want to Use in the Ratio

Start by figuring out which numbers you want to use for your ratio.

When you’ve decided on the numbers, make sure they’re in separate cells on your Excel spreadsheet. This is crucial because we’ll be referencing these cells in our formula.

Step 2: Use the ‘=’ Sign to Start Your Formula

Click on the cell where you want the ratio to appear, and type in the ‘=’ sign.

The ‘=’ sign is the starting point for all formulas in Excel. It tells Excel that what follows is a formula that needs to be calculated.

Step 3: Type in the Cell References for Your Numbers

After the ‘=’, type in the cell reference for the first number, followed by a colon (‘:’), and then the cell reference for the second number.

For example, if your numbers are in cells A1 and B1, your formula will look like this: =A1:B1. This tells Excel that you want to calculate the ratio of the number in cell A1 to the number in cell B1.

Step 4: Press Enter to Calculate the Ratio

Once you’ve typed in your formula, press Enter.

Excel will calculate the ratio for you and display it in the cell where you typed your formula. If you want to change the formatting to show the ratio as a percentage or a decimal, you can do so by adjusting the cell’s format settings.

After completing these steps, you’ll have a cell that displays the ratio of the two numbers you selected. You can use this cell reference in other formulas, or you can use it to create graphs or charts that include your ratio.

Tips: Excel Formulas and Ratios

  • When using cell references, make sure the cells you’re referencing contain only numbers and not other characters or text.
  • If your numbers are large, consider rounding them before calculating the ratio for a cleaner look.
  • Remember that ratios can be formatted in different ways, such as fractions, decimals, or percentages, depending on your preference.
  • Use absolute cell references (e.g., $A$1:$B$1) if you plan to copy the formula to other cells and want to keep referencing the same cells.
  • If you get an error message, double-check your formula for any typos or incorrect cell references.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my numbers are in different rows or columns?

No problem! Just make sure to use the correct cell references in your formula. For example, if one number is in cell A1 and the other is in cell C5, your formula would be =A1:C5.

Can I calculate the ratio of more than two numbers?

Yes, you can, but it gets a bit more complicated. You’ll need to use additional formulas to calculate the ratios between multiple numbers. For simplicity, it’s usually best to calculate ratios between two numbers at a time.

How can I make my ratio look like a fraction?

After calculating the ratio, go to the ‘Format Cells’ option (right-click the cell and select ‘Format Cells’), choose ‘Fraction’ under the ‘Number’ tab, and select the type of fraction you want.

What if I want to use the ratio in another formula?

Once you have the ratio in a cell, you can reference that cell in other formulas. For example, if your ratio is in cell D1 and you want to use it to calculate a percentage in cell E1, you could use the formula =D1*100 in cell E1.

Can I use cell references to calculate ratios between cells in different worksheets?

Yes! Just include the worksheet name in your cell reference. For example, if you want to calculate the ratio of a number in cell A1 on the ‘Sheet1’ worksheet to a number in cell B1 on the ‘Sheet2’ worksheet, your formula would be =Sheet1!A1:Sheet2!B1.


  1. Identify the numbers for the ratio
  2. Use the ‘=’ sign to start the formula
  3. Enter the cell references for the numbers
  4. Press Enter to calculate the ratio


Calculating ratios with cell references in Excel is a handy skill that can help you analyze data efficiently. Whether you’re a student working on a project, a business professional crunching numbers, or just someone who loves organizing data, mastering this skill will definitely make your life easier. Remember to keep your data organized, and don’t shy away from playing around with different formatting options to make your ratios clear and easy to understand. And always double-check your formulas for accuracy.

With the tips and FAQs provided, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an Excel formulas whiz. So go ahead, give it a try, and watch as Excel does the heavy lifting for you. Happy calculating!