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: Using Named Formulas Across Workbooks.

Using Named Formulas Across Workbooks

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 15, 2015)

Excel allows you to define names that refer to specific cells or ranges of cells in a workbook. In the same manner (using Insert | Name | Define), you can assign a formula to a name, and then use that name in place of the formula throughout the workbook.

A named formula is part of a collection in workbook object. This is why it can be used across different sheets in the same workbook and (in most cases) acts like it is part of the same "sheet" for many functions and routines.

To use a name in another workbook, your workbook must have a link to that name in the other workbook. There are a couple of ways to do this. The first is to link to the named formula with a formula like this:

='C:\Folder\Path\Filename.xls'!NamedFormula

This can be copied in multiple cells. The other way is to create a name in the workbook (it can be the same or different than the name in the other workbook). Just display the Name dialog box (Insert | Name | Define) and use the following in the Refers To field:

='C:\Folder\Path\Filename.xls'!NamedFormula

And now the workbook has a name and it refers to the named formula in the other workbook.

Both techniques create a "link" to the original workbook. There is one problem with either of these methods, however. Many simple formulas (the "direct links," like named ranges) will work even if the original file is closed. The more complicated formulas (which act like "indirect links," formulas with offset or other functions) will give a #REF! error if the original workbook is closed. In this latter case, the references will work only if both workbooks are open.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3130) 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: Using Named Formulas Across Workbooks.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Jumping to a Specific Page

Want to jump to a particular page in your document? Word makes it easy; just pull up the Go To tab of the Find and ...

Discover More

Automatically Loading Add-ins

Want to load a particular add-in for use with a specific worksheet? Here's a quick way to do it using macros.

Discover More

Adding Caption Labels

When using the captioning capabilities of Word, you aren't limited to the three default caption labels provided in the ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Automatically Numbering Rows

Adding row numbers to a column of your worksheet is easy; you just need to use a formula to do it. Here's a quick look at ...

Discover More

Character Replacement in Simple Formulas

Do you see some small rectangular boxes appearing in your formula results? It could be because Excel is substituting that ...

Discover More

Listing Combinations

You can easily use the COMBIN worksheet function to determine the number of combinations that can be made from a given ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is eight minus 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.