Using floating cells to “mirror” formulas — or text — in WordPerfect

December 11, 2010 at 10:11 am

Floating cells are single-celled tables that don’t have borders. WordPerfect Help (from an old version of the software) describes a floating cell as follows:

“A code in the text of a document that has the properties of a table cell. A floating cell can contain formulas, text, or numbers. Unlike a table cell, which is surrounded by table lines, a floating cell is used outside of tables. Floating cells refer to data in tables or in other floating cells. You can create a floating cell practically anywhere in a document, such as in a header or footer.

The information in the floating cell updates whenever you update the information it refers to. For example, you could create a floating cell in the text of a mortgage document. This floating cell could refer to a table that calculates the interest on home loans, so that the correct interest amount would be automatically entered into the mortgage document in place of the floating cell.

Copyright © Corel Corporation Limited. All Rights Reserved.”

To use a floating cell to repeat (mirror) text, a formula, or numbers in a table cell, do the following:

First, create your table and format it as you like. Then click the Table menu, Create, Floating Cell, Create. (In legacy versions of WordPerfect, the sequence is Insert, Table, Floating Cell, Create.)

There are two ways to link a floating cell to a table (or to a table cell or another floating cell):

1. Click in the Formula Bar, then (a) click in the cell you want to copy and (b) click the blue check mark within Formula Bar. Doing so will insert the cell reference into the floating cell.

2. Alternatively, you can type a formula or cell reference directly in the floating cell. For instance,


The formula immediately above refers to cell B1 of TABLE A (the first table in your document).

Note that you can assign names to cells or ranges of cells, or even to entire tables (by using the “Names…” button in the Formula Bar). If you have named the cell you wish to “copy,” the formula you type in the floating cell would look something like this:


Be sure to use this exact syntax. In other words, you need a plus sign ahead of the table name, a space between the word “TABLE” and the table letter, and a period ahead of the cell reference or cell name. You may find that you have to click in the floating cell in order for it to update information you type in the table cell. If that doesn’t work, right-click within the floating cell and click “Calculate.”

Automatic Calculation

In order for WordPerfect to perform automatic calculations in tables and floating cells, the automatic calculation function must be enabled. If it does not seem to be working, you can turn on automatic calculation by placing your cursor within a table or floating cell and clicking the Table menu, then clicking “Calculate.” When the Calculate dialog box opens, click “Calculate table” (if you want WP to perform automatic calculation only within the particular table your cursor is in) or “Calculate tables in document,” then click “OK.”

If for some reason you don’t want to enable automatic calculation generally (i.e., for future documents), you still can update the information in tables and floating cells in the current document by positioning your cursor within a table or floating cell and clicking the Calculate Document button in the Calculate dialog box; by right-clicking, then clicking “Calculate”; or by clicking the Calculate button in the Formula Bar.

Note that calculations are performed when you move the cursor out of the table or floating cell that contains the text, number, or formula to which other tables or floating cells in your document refer.

Uses for Floating Cells

Floating cells can be used anywhere in your document that you want text, numbers, or formulas to be repeated. They’re particularly handy if you want all of the iterations to be updated automatically when you make a change in the original text, numbers, or formulas. Think of floating cells as a sophisticated technique for cross-referencing–one that permits updating the cross-references throughout the document all at once.

One obvious use for floating cells is for responses to special interrogatories, where you have several identical responses (“Objection. Vague and ambiguous as to the term…”).

To do so, click Table, Create, Floating Cell, Create to insert one floating cell into the document where you would normally type the first response, and type the response as usual. (It can be helpful to turn on Reveal Codes at this point so that you’re sure to type the text between the Floating Cell “on” and “off” codes.)

Next, insert floating cells where you would normally type the additional responses.

Within each floating cell (between the “on” and “off” codes), insert a cell reference to the first floating cell. You can (1) type the cell reference directly (+FLOATING CELL A) or, if you prefer, (2) click in the Formula Bar, click within the original floating cell, and then click the blue checkmark within the Formula Bar. When you move the cursor out of the original floating cell, the text in the original floating cell should appear within the others.

If you need to make a change, edit the text in the original floating cell, then move the cursor out of the cell–and voilà! The change will be reflected in the other cells.


This post is adapted from two WordPerfect handouts I wrote some time ago. The information still applies to newer versions of the program.

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