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: Simple Relative References in External Links.

Simple Relative References in External Links

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 28, 2014)

Mike wonders if there is a way to have links to information in an external workbook use relative references. For instance, if there is a link to a cell in another workbook, it is automatically set to an explicit path, such as c:\fullpath\otherfile.xls. It would be better for Mike's purposes if it was not an explicit path, instead using simply otherfile.xls. That way he could move files around and have the reference be to an external file that is relative to where my current workbook is located.

There is no real way to do this in Excel. The links are created when the linked file is stored. When both workbooks are open (the one with the link and the one that is the target of the link), the links refer to just the filename. The full path location is only saved when the linked file is saved.

If you want to move the location of files, just open both files and then use Save As to save the files where you want them. Excel will update the links to the proper locations. If you move the files around outside of Excel, however, then the links could easily get messed up. (Some people have reported success by having the source and target workbooks always be in the same folder, but this seems to be more simplistic than what Mike is looking for.)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7921) 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: Simple Relative References in External Links.

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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