A formula in a cell in Google Sheets often contains references to other cells in the sheet. A reference to a single cell is a combination of a letter and a number. For example, A1, C5, and E9 are all references to a single cell. The letter indicates the column and the number indicates the row.
A range is referenced by using two cell references separated by a colon. Ranges can span multiple rows and/or columns. For example, A1:A6 means all the cells in column A from row 1 to row 6, C1:E1 means all the cells in row 1 from column C to column E, and C3:D6 means all the cells in columns C and D from row 3 to row 6. These ranges are shown in the figure below.
When a cell containing a formula is copied and pasted into another cell, or if the cell is used to autofill a range of cells, the references in the formula are updated automatically in each of the new cells. Each reference is updated so that the cell it points to is located the same number of rows and columns away from the cell containing the formula as in the original case. So if the formula “=2*A1” is entered into cell B1 and copied into cells B2, B3, and B4, the formula will be changed as shown in the figure below. Each formula refers to the cell immediately to its left.
A dollar sign ($) can be used before the column and/or row part of a reference to control how the reference will be updated. The dollar sign causes the corresponding part of the reference to remain unchanged. As an example, if the formula “=A$1+$B1” is entered into cell C1 and then copied into the rest of the cells in C1:D4, the resulting formulas will be as shown in the figure below.