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: Totaling Across Worksheets.

Totaling Across Worksheets

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 22, 2016)

Referring to ranges of cells is one of the very basic skills necessary to effectively use Excel. As you start to create ever-more-complex formulas, you may wonder if there is a way to refer, in a range reference, to a "stack" of cells on multiple worksheets, the same as you can refer to rows or columns on the current worksheet. For instance, the following formula is a way to refer to all cells in column B:

=SUM(B:B)

Note that you don't have to provide a starting or ending row; you just have to provide the column name. You can likewise do the same thing for row references. The following refers to the range of all cells in row 3:

=SUM(3:3)

The problem with referencing all the cells in a set position across a range of worksheets is that there is no unique "collection name" to apply to cells in that position. For instance, rows have numbers and columns have letters. "Stacks" of cells across worksheets don't have a comparable name.

The only way, then, that you can refer to the same cell across a range of worksheets is the rather explicit way that Microsoft dictates. For instance, the following refers to the range at cell D5 across three sheets:

=SUM(Sheet1:Sheet3!D5)

Understanding that sheets must be named in the range, you can include an ever-expanding range by simply making sure that you only add new worksheets between the beginning and ending sheets specified in your formula.

As an example, let's assume that you have a template for an invoice, and that your workbook contains all the invoices you have created this year. Further, each invoice has a total at cell F15. If you want a summary worksheet that shows a total for all invoices, all you need to do is make sure that your first invoice is the first worksheet in your workbook, that your invoice template is the second to last, and that your summary worksheet is the last one in the workbook. In this way, your formula could be something like:

=SUM(Inv01001:InvTemplate!F15)

Whenever you need to add a new invoice, simply make sure it is added immediately before the invoice template. Your invoices remain in order, and your formula always returns the correct total.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2514) 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: Totaling Across Worksheets.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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