Referencing External Cell Colors

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 30, 2021)

Beth asked how to copy the color formatting of an external cell to a cell in the current workbook. Unfortunately, there is no intrinsic way to do this by using the linking features of Excel. You can, however, copy formatting from one workbook to another by using a macro.

As an example, consider the following macro code:

Workbooks.Open Filename:= "C:\mypath\myworkbook.xls"
Range("A1").Select
Selection.Copy
Windows("TargetBook.xls").Activate
Range("C7").Select
Selection.PasteSpecial Paste:=xlPasteFormats, _
  Operation:=xlNone, SkipBlanks:=False, _
  Transpose:=False

This code does several things. First, it opens the external workbook and selects the range of cells you want to copy. The Copy method is then invoked, so the source range is now in the Clipboard. The macro then switches to the target workbook and select the range there. Finally, the PasteSpecial method is used to paste only the format of the source cells.

If you decide to use code like this, you can place it in the Auto_Open macro for the target workbook. Of course, you need to modify the code so that it refers to the proper path and workbook names, along with the desired source and target ranges.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2601) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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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