How to Remove $ in Excel: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Dollar Sign

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Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool that empowers users with the ability to perform complex calculations, manage data, and create insightful visualizations. One fundamental aspect of Excel that often perplexes users is the ubiquitous dollar sign ($). While seemingly innocuous, the dollar sign serves a crucial role in Excel formulas and cell references.

In this article, we’ll delve into the purpose of the dollar sign in Excel, explore scenarios where it’s used effectively, and provide multiple hacks to understand how to remove $ in Excel when necessary.

Understanding the Purpose of the Dollar Sign in Excel:

The dollar sign in Excel is not just a symbol of currency; rather, it plays a pivotal role in creating absolute and relative cell references in formulas. When used in a formula, the dollar sign anchors a reference, preventing it from changing when the formula is copied to other cells. There are two types of cell references: relative and absolute.

  1. Relative Reference:

By default, cell references in Excel are relative. When you copy a formula that contains a relative reference, the reference adjusts based on the new location.

For example, if you copy a formula from cell A1 to B1, a reference to A1 becomes a reference to B1.

  1. Absolute Reference:

Adding a dollar sign before the column letter, row number, or both creates an absolute reference.

Absolute references do not change when the formula is copied to other cells. If you copy a formula with an absolute reference from cell A1 to B1, the reference remains fixed as $A$1.

Effectively Using the Dollar Sign in Excel:

Now that we understand the purpose of the dollar sign, let’s explore scenarios where it is used effectively in Excel:

  1. Locking Rows or Columns in Formulas:

    • When working with large datasets, you may need to lock specific rows or columns in your formulas. For instance, if you have a sales table where the first row contains headers, using absolute references ($A$1, $B$1, etc.) ensures that your formulas always refer to the headers, regardless of their position.
  2. Copying Formulas Across Multiple Rows and Columns:

    • The dollar sign is invaluable when copying formulas across a range. If you want to calculate the total of each row in a table, anchoring the column reference (e.g., $B2) allows you to copy the formula horizontally without changing the column reference.
  3. Preserving Constants in Formulas:

    • When using a constant value in a formula, such as a tax rate or conversion factor, anchoring it with a dollar sign ensures that the constant does not change when the formula is copied.

Hacks to Remove the Dollar Sign in Excel:

Despite its usefulness, there are situations where you might want to remove the dollar sign from cell references in Excel. Here are some hacks to achieve that:

  1. Find and Replace:

    • Press Ctrl + H to open the Find and Replace dialog. Enter $ in the “Find what” field and leave the “Replace with” field blank. Click “Replace All” to remove all dollar signs in the active sheet or specify a range.
  2. Using the SUBSTITUTE Function:

    • You can use the SUBSTITUTE function to replace dollar signs with an empty string. For example, if the cell A1 contains a formula with absolute references, you can use =SUBSTITUTE(FORMULATEXT(A1), “$”, “”) in another cell to get the formula without dollar signs.
  3. Excel’s Flash Fill Feature:

    • Excel’s Flash Fill feature can be handy for removing dollar signs. After typing a few modified references in adjacent cells, Excel can recognize the pattern and automatically fill in the rest of the column.


In conclusion, the dollar sign in Excel is a powerful tool for controlling cell references in formulas. Understanding when and how to use absolute references is key to efficient spreadsheet management. While the dollar sign is often essential, there are times when you need to remove it, and Excel provides several methods to do so.

Mastering the interplay of relative and absolute references will elevate your Excel skills and enable you to navigate complex datasets with ease.

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