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Special Characters In Hyperlinks

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Special Characters In Hyperlinks.

As you learn in other issues of ExcelTips, Excel allows you to create hyperlinks to other Excel workbooks. If you create a workbook that uses the pound sign (#) in the file name, Excel has no problem with that. It will have a problem, however, if you try to create a hyperlink that references that workbook.

The reason for this is because the pound sign is a valid character for a file name, but it is not a valid character for use in a hyperlink. Since hyperlinks are closely related to URLs, you may think that replacing the pound sign with its hexadecimal equivalent (%23) in the hyperlink might do the trick. For instance, you might use the name My%23File.xls in the hyperlink instead of My#File.xls. This potential solution won't work, however. Excel still complains that it cannot find the file when you click on the hyperlink.

According to Microsoft sources, there are only two potential solutions. The first is to rename the target workbook so it doesn't include the pound sign in the file name. If this is not possible, then the second solution is to create a hyperlink by pasting instead of by using the Insert Hyperlink command. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the workbook in which you want the hyperlink.
  2. Open the target workbook.
  3. In the target workbook, select the cell or range of cells you want selected when the hyperlink is clicked.
  4. Press Ctrl+C to copy the cell or range of cells to the Clipboard.
  5. Activate the workbook in which you want the hyperlink.
  6. Select the cell where you want the hyperlink to appear.
  7. Choose Paste As Hyperlink from the Edit menu.

Your hyperlink appears, complete with the pound sign, and it will work.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2004) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Special Characters In Hyperlinks.

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Comments for this tip:

Gene    28 Apr 2015, 01:24
Excel does work with the # sign when it is in the target but not when in the relative link. Extremely buggy behaviour. And don't get me started about folder-path length...

so =hyperlink("\\blah#blah\meh\","blah") won't work BUT =hyperlink("..\meh\","blah") will if the excel doc is in a different child folder to meh and even if the target root folder is \\blah#blah - Tested
or =hyperlink(".\","blah") may work if in same folder - Not Tested

Relative works, absolute does not. I suspect it occurs when excel pastes the string together in the backend wmi processes using win3.1 code.
Tom Bates    16 Jan 2015, 09:01
I consider this a bug in Office. The %xx encoding was specifically designed to avoid this kind of issue. MS goofed here; the %23 should work.

This is more of a problem for me because I'm creating links to files other than Excel workbooks. Their "Paste as" workaround doesn't work for other file types.
jake    20 Oct 2014, 18:02
Thanks great page!

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