I've seen someone construct what seemed like cell references in Excel that looked like

=[@[column title]]*someothercell

What is this feature called, are the rectangular brackets and the at sign independent or do they belong together? How does it work precisely?

I've googled around for a while and tried by hand in Excel, but couldn't get it to work.

1 Answer 1


The square brackets are used for structured references, which make it easier to reference data in named tables (which you can create by going to Insert → Table).

The @ is new notation in Excel 2010 replacing [#This Row] from Excel 2007. The at symbol is used to shorten formulas inside named tables referencing cells in the same row.

The inner square brackets are only needed because your bar foo table heading contains a space.

  • 1
    Great, thanks for your help!! Using your link at a starting point, I was able to figure out the rest - hope it is okay I edited it into your answer to be able to give you the green checkmark :-). Nov 7, 2012 at 10:54
  • @JonasHeidelberg No problem, thanks for contributing!
    – Indrek
    Nov 7, 2012 at 11:57
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    @Indrek I'm working with Excel 2013 and omitting the @ seems to still work - do you know what exactly is the difference between [@somecol] and [somecol]?
    – eddi
    May 12, 2015 at 18:14
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    Very old thread but in case it's useful... The @symbol is used to select the current row, omitting this will select all rows in that column. This is only apparent when using aggregate such as sum, average etc. so =AVERAGE([@MyDataColumn]) would just the return the same value present in MyDataColumn but =AVERAGE([MyDataColumn]) would return the average of the entire column Jun 29, 2017 at 18:34

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