To compute fields in the table from other fields, formulas must reference other fields or ranges. In Org, fields can be referenced by name, by absolute coordinates, and by relative coordinates. To find out what the coordinates of a field are, press C-c ? in that field, or press C-c } to toggle the display of a grid.
Formulas can reference the value of another field in two ways. Like in
any other spreadsheet, you may reference fields with a letter/number
B3, meaning the 2nd field in the 3rd row.
However, Org prefers1 to use another, more general
representation that looks like this:
Column specifications can be absolute like
$N, or relative to the current column (i.e., the
column of the field which is being computed) like
$> are immutable references to the first and last
column, respectively, and you can use
$>>> to indicate the third
column from the right.
The row specification only counts data lines and ignores horizontal separator
lines (hlines). Like with columns, you can use absolute row numbers
@N, and row numbers relative to the
current row like
immutable references the first and last2 row in the table, respectively. You may also
specify the row relative to one of the hlines:
@I refers to the first
@II to the second, etc.
@-I refers to the first such
line above the current line,
@+I to the first such line below the
current line. You can also write
@III+2 which is the second data line
after the third hline in the table.
$0 refer to the current row and column, respectively,
i.e., to the row/column for the field being computed. Also, if you omit
either the column or the row part of the reference, the current row/column is
Org's references with unsigned numbers are fixed references in the sense that if you use the same reference in the formula for two different fields, the same field will be referenced each time. Org's references with signed numbers are floating references because the same reference operator can reference different fields depending on the field being calculated by the formula.
Here are a few examples:
@2$3 2nd row, 3rd column (same as
C2) $5 column 5 in the current row (same as
E&) @2 current column, row 2 @-1$-3 the field one row up, three columns to the left @-I$2 field just under hline above current row, column 2 @>$5 field in the last row, in column 5
You may reference a rectangular range of fields by specifying two field
references connected by two dots ‘..’. If both fields are in the
current row, you may simply use ‘$2..$7’, but if at least one field
is in a different row, you need to use the general
format at least for the first field (i.e the reference must start with
‘@’ in order to be interpreted correctly). Examples:
$1..$3 first three fields in the current row $P..$Q range, using column names (see under Advanced) $<<<..$>> start in third column, continue to the last but one @2$1..@4$3 6 fields between these two fields (same as
A2..C4) @-1$-2..@-1 3 fields in the row above, starting from 2 columns on the left @I..II between first and second hline, short for
Range references return a vector of values that can be fed into Calc vector functions. Empty fields in ranges are normally suppressed, so that the vector contains only the non-empty fields. For other options with the mode switches ‘E’, ‘N’ and examples see Formula syntax for Calc.
One of the very first actions during evaluation of Calc formulas and Lisp
formulas is to substitute
$# in the formula with the
row or column number of the field where the current result will go to. The
traditional Lisp formula equivalents are
if(@# % 2, $#, string(""))
$2 = '(identity remote(FOO, @@#$1))
FOOinto column 2 of the current table.
@3 = 2 * remote(FOO, @1$$#)
FOOinto row 3 of the current table.
For the second/third example, the table named
FOO must have
at least as many rows/columns as the current table. Note that this is
inefficient3 for large number of
‘$name’ is interpreted as the name of a column, parameter or
constant. Constants are defined globally through the option
org-table-formula-constants, and locally (for the file) through a
#+CONSTANTS: c=299792458. pi=3.14 eps=2.4e-6
Also properties (see Properties and columns) can be used as constants in table formulas: for a property ‘:Xyz:’ use the name ‘$PROP_Xyz’, and the property will be searched in the current outline entry and in the hierarchy above it. If you have the constants.el package, it will also be used to resolve constants, including natural constants like ‘$h’ for Planck's constant, and units like ‘$km’ for kilometers4. Column names and parameters can be specified in special table lines. These are described below, see Advanced features. All names must start with a letter, and further consist of letters and numbers.
You may also reference constants, fields and ranges from a different table, either in the current file or even in a different file. The syntax is
where NAME can be the name of a table in the current file as set by a
#+NAME: Name line before the table. It can also be the ID of an
entry, even in a different file, and the reference then refers to the first
table in that entry. REF is an absolute field or range reference as
described above for example
$somename, valid in the
Indirection of NAME-OR-ID: When NAME-OR-ID has the format
it will be substituted with the name or ID found in this field of the current
table. For example
remote($1, @>$2) =>
@>$1). The format
B3 is not supported because it can not be
distinguished from a plain table name or ID.
 Org will understand references typed by the
user as ‘B4’, but it will not use this syntax when offering a formula
for editing. You can customize this behavior using the option
 For backward compatibility
you can also use special names like
$LR12 to refer in
a stable way to the 5th and 12th field in the last row of the table.
However, this syntax is deprecated, it should not be used for new documents.
 The computation time scales as O(N^2) because the table
FOO is parsed for each field to be read.
 constants.el can
supply the values of constants in two different unit systems,
cgs. Which one is used depends on the value of the variable
constants-unit-system. You can use the
constcgs to set this value for the current