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

Preventing Changes to Formatting and Page Size

When you create workbooks for others to use, you might want to make sure that they can't change the formatting and paper size ...

Discover More

Coloring Cells with Formulas

Easily seeing where all the formulas are in your worksheet can be handy. Here are some ideas on different ways you can color ...

Discover More

Field in Footer Won't Update

Word provides a handy shortcut that allows you to update the fields in any text you've selected. When you select your whole ...

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Changing the Reference in a Named Range

Define a named range today and you may want to change the definition at some future point. It's rather easy to do, as ...

Discover More

Formulas Don't Calculate as Formulas

Enter a formula (starting with an equal sign) and you may be surprised if Excel doesn't calculate the formula. Here's a good ...

Discover More

Searching for a Value Using a Function

Searching for a value using Excel's Find tool is easy; searching for that same value using a formula or a macro is more ...

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 more than 2?

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.