Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Indirect References to a DSUM Parameter.

Indirect References to a DSUM Parameter

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 21, 2017)

Octavio has a worksheet that has a lot of named ranges in it. In one section of his worksheet he has a list of those names. In a formula that uses the DSUM function, Octavio wants to use different cells in this list to refer to the actual "database" that is used by the function. For instance, if "February11" is a named range and cell F12 contains the text "February11," Octavio wants to specify F12 as the first parameter in the DSUM function and have it get the actual range. When he tries the following, where Criteria is a named range for the summation criteria, he gets an error:

=DSUM(F12, "Profit", Criteria)

The solution to this is to use, instead of the actual cell address, the results of the INDIRECT function. This function grabs whatever is at the cell it references and uses that content as a "pointer" to another cell or range. Thus, if cell F12 contains the text "February11", the following two formulas provide the exact same result:

=DSUM(INDIRECT(F12), "Profit", Criteria)
=DSUM(February11, "Profit", Criteria)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (5664) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Indirect References to a DSUM Parameter.

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. ...


Fatal Errors in Word

If Word runs into a problem and the program can't continue, that can be distressing. Here are some things you can check ...

Discover More

Resize Graphics Outside of Excel

Graphics are a common addition to almost any workbook. If you need to change the size of your graphics (which Excel lets ...

Discover More

ExcelTips Menu 2016 Archive (Table of Contents)

ExcelTips is a weekly newsletter that provides tips on how to best use Microsoft's word processing software. At ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Using the ABS Function

Need to find the absolute value of a number? That's where the ABS function comes into play.

Discover More

Specifying a Language for the TEXT Function

You may want to use Excel to display dates using a different language than your normal one. There are a couple of ways ...

Discover More

Determining the Least Common Multiple

Need to figure out the least common multiple of a range of values? It is a snap when you use the LCM function, described ...

Discover More

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

View most recent newsletter.


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 1 + 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 ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips

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.