Adjusting Formulas for Top-Added Rows

Bill has a formula that sums a column in rows 2 through 15, using the SUM function. If he adds a row anywhere at rows 3 through 15, the formula adjusts properly. If he adds a row at the top (just above row 2), the formula does not adjust at all to include the inserted row. Bill wonders if there is a way to make the formula adjust properly and automatically when he adds a row at the top of what is being summed.

There are many schools of thought on how this can be done, each implementing a different technique to accomplish the same thing. One approach is to simply convert your data into a formal table in the worksheet. The easiest way is to select a cell within your data and then press Ctrl+T. Excel recognizes your data as a table and if you insert any rows at the top of your table, just under your headings, they are automatically reflected in the summing of the table.

Another approach is to adjust your SUM formula. You proabably are doing a sum of rows 2 through 15 because row 1 has a column heading in it. If this is the case (and if the column heading contains text), then simply adjust your SUM formula so it references rows 1 through 15. Now, when someone adds a new row at row 2, it is automatically included in the sum. Further, the text in the column heading won’t affect that sum in the least.

If your headings contain numbers that may actually mess up your sums, then you can try a variation. Insert a blank row at row 2 and adjust your SUM formula so it references rows 2 through 16. (It will be row 16 instead of 15 because you added the new, blank row 2.) Then, hide row 2 so it isn’t visible. Now when people add rows at the top, they will actually be adding them at row 3 and the SUM formula will still reference the hidden row 2-adjustments will occur correctly.

You could also use an approach where you adjust the SUM formula to use either the INDIRECT or OFFSET function. Assume, for a moment, that your current SUM formula looks like this:

=SUM(A2:A15)

Change it so that it looks like one of the following:

=SUM(INDIRECT("A2"):A15)
=SUM(OFFSET(A1,1,0):A15)

Both of these formulas “anchor” the top cell of the range. When you insert cells at the top of the summed range (before row 2), Excel won’t adjust the cell references in either the INDIRECT function or in the OFFSET function. The result is that your SUM formula will always reference the top range cell you want.