I wonder how does work the following and is it documented somewhere?

I have the sheet:

A         B
3         =$A:$A
5         =$A:$A

For column B (row 3 and 5) I see corresponding values from column A. It looks like =$A:$A (or even =$A$2:$A$5 etc) works like =$A$3 and =$A$5 in some automagical manner (and no needs to specify different formulas for every cell in B).

I like such behaviour but wish to be sure that it is a reliable solution.

  • 1
    I was thinking about it but not sure that it answers. =$A:$A neither returns full list of values from $A:$A nor extends values to multiple rows. It looks that Sheets automatically replaces =$A:$A with something like =INDEX($A:$A; ROW()) but it is not obvious. – crazyh Mar 24 '18 at 1:00
  • standalone =$A:$A means nothing, but if you use it in an array like =ARRAYFORMULA(=$A:$A) and you have some input in A column then it will return you everything you have in A column


  • if you want to get cell notation of current row type in =ROW() and for full notation try:

    • =ADDRESS(ROW(), COLUMN(), 4)
    • =ADDRESS(ROW(), COLUMN(), 3)
    • =ADDRESS(ROW(), COLUMN(), 2)
    • =ADDRESS(ROW(), COLUMN(), 1)


| improve this answer | |
  • > standalone =$A:$A means nothing I was thinking so but see docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/…. It looks like =$A:$A works like some kind of array getter "=$A:$A[ROW()]". And I still did not find where such behaviour documented. – crazyh Jan 18 '19 at 23:17
  • But I do not use ARRAYFORMULA but ="A:A is " & A:A expands to 'A:A is 2', 'A:A is 5' etc. And it is not clear how to call such type of reference. – crazyh Jan 20 '19 at 1:47
  • How it can be "nothing" when in test sheet above it is alone and is anything? And Sheets somehow knows that only single row from A:A matrix should be displayed. – crazyh Jan 20 '19 at 2:13

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