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: Links to Hyperlinks.

Links to Hyperlinks

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 24, 2015)

John has two workbooks which, for convenience, we'll call A and B. In workbook A at cell C3 on Sheet1 there is a hyperlink to a Word document. In workbook B there is a link to Sheet1!C3 in workbook A. In workbook A the hyperlink is active; in workbook B it is not. John wants to know if there is a way to make the referenced (linked) hyperlink active in workbook B.

The answer depends on several factors. If you create a link to Sheet1!C3 in workbook A (not a hyperlink), then it is not possible. If you create a hyperlink, then it is possible, provided you put your original hyperlink—the one in workbook A—together in the proper manner.

When you create a hyperlink to the Word document, you have the opportunity to create a "display" value for the link. This display value is what is shown in the worksheet, while the underlying hyperlink is something else entirely. For instance, you could have a display value of "Quarterly Report," which is what people would see in the workbook. When someone clicks on the text, then the actual report (such as c:\MyDocs\Q410.doc) is actually opened.

If you use a display value that is different from the full hyperlink address, then there is no way to put together a formula that will be active. If, however, you don't specify a display value, Excel will display the actual hyperlink address in the cell. If this is the case, then you can use the following formula in workbook B:


This works because the INDIRECT function grabs the info displayed at Sheet1!C3 of workbook A, and then uses it as the address for the HYPERLINK function. Again, this only works if the info displayed at Sheet1!C3 of workbook A is an address, not a display value for a hyperlink.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3168) 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: Links to Hyperlinks.

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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