Excel Tutorial: Row1Column1

Ever find yourself pointing at the screen and silently counting the number of columns to find out what number column P is in Excel so you can use it in Sage’s Visual Integrator or another tool? (It’s 16, by the way).

Did you know you can easily change the columns in Excel from displaying letters to displaying numbers? It’s called R1C1 style – or Row1Column1 – and here’s how to switch views.

How to change column letters to Numbers in excel

Microsoft Excel has two basic reference styles. There’s the default ‘A1 Style’ that we’ve all come to know and love, and the lesser known ‘R1C1 Style’. We’ll discuss the pros and cons below, but first, let’s cover how to switch between the two views.

Changing to R1C1 Style

  1. Click the File tab in Excel to access the backstage view.
  2. Select Options on the left-hand side. This will open a separate dialog box.
  3. Click Formulas on the left-hand side of the dialog box.
  4. Check the box next to R1C1 reference style under the “Working with formulas” section.
  5. Click OK to save.

Pretty simple right? Excel will now use the R1C1 reference style rather than the default A1 view. To revert back, simply follow the same steps and uncheck the R1C1 style box.

Pros and cons

Comparing A1 and R1C1 reference styles in Excel

As mentioned above, the A1 reference style is likely what you use in Excel every day. It is the standard, default view with numbers running up-to-down (y-axis rows), and letters running left-to-right (x-axis columns). In A1 style, referencing cells in formulas is easy, as rows and columns are clearly delineated. This is especially helpful if you typically type out your formulas versus “cell picking.”

In A1 style, a cell is identified by its column letter first and row number second. R1C1 flips the order and distinguishes row number with an ‘R’ and column number with a ‘C’.

For example, in A1 style, the cell four rows down and two columns over is B4.
This same cell in R1C1 reference style is identified as R4C2.


There are a number of use cases that make R1C1 useful. We often see this when users are working with an outside data tool like Sage Visual Integrator. Regardless of your reference style preference, it’s important to remember that all the functions and processes in Excel will stay the same. A lot comes down to personal preference and what you’re trying to do with your spreadsheet data.

Contact Us

We’re in the business of transforming your business, and building relationships that foster growth. It all starts with a conversation.

Contact Support

Need a helping hand? Have no fear. We're right here.