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Open-Ended References in Google Sheets

In this article, I will show you how to use open-ended references in Google Sheets to dynamically sum the numbers in a single column.

What is an Open-Ended Reference?

An open-ended cell reference looks like this.

C4:C

The first part of the reference is the address of a single cell. You then have a colon followed by a column letter without a row number.

The open-ended reference will refer to the entire column of cells, starting with the address of the cell at the beginning.

Why is this Useful?

Open-ended references are useful because they allow you to construct formulas that need to reference a range that may change in size over time.

For example, here is a list of sales agents along with their performance numbers. The goal is to calculate the total sales.

This calculation is simple enough. You just need to use the SUM function like so.

=SUM(B2:B8)

However, what if you want to add more sales data to this list? You would need to update your formula to get the correct sales total.

To prevent this problem, you can use an open-ended reference instead.

Applying the Open-Ended Reference

This time, you will enter an open-ended reference into the SUM function.

=SUM(B2:B)

The SUM function will then add all the numbers starting in cell B2 down to the bottom of column B. This setup allows you to add new data to the list, and the total sales number will update automatically for each new record.

And that is how you can use open-ended references in Google Sheets to dynamically sum all of the numbers in a single column.

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