Using a Cell Value as a Worksheet Name in a Formula

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 4, 2015)

Roy has a formula that references a cell in another workbook, as ='[Timesheets.xlsm]Week01'!L6. He would like to have the formula pick up the name of the worksheet (Week01) from another cell, so that the formula becomes more general-purpose. Roy wonders how he should change the formula so it can use whatever worksheet name is in cell B9.

The easiest way to handle this is to use the INDIRECT worksheet function. Essentially, it takes a cell address and uses it as a "pointer" and then retrieves the value from that cell. For instance, you could use the following:

=INDIRECT(L6)

This results in the value in cell L6 being fetched and used as the pointer to what you really want. Thus, if cell L6 contains "A7", then the function returns the value of whatever is in cell A7. Interestingly, if you invoke the function in this way you get a different result:

=INDIRECT("L6")

The result is the contents of cell L6 instead of using the contents of cell L6 as a pointer.

With this information, you could easily put together an address that will work properly with the INDIRECT function:

=INDIRECT("'[Timesheets.xlsm]" & K2 & "'!L6")

This formula assumes that the name of the desired worksheet is stored in cell K2. If a valid worksheet name is not in that cell the formula returns a #REF error.

One important "gotcha" with this approach is that you've got to make sure that the workbook (Timesheets.xlsm) is open. INDIRECT won't reach into an unopen workbook. If it is not open, then you'll get a #REF error instead of the desired value.

If you want to make the formula even more general-purpose, you could pull the workbook name, worksheet name, and cell referene all from cells within your worksheet, as in this manner:

=INDIRECT("'[" & K1 & "]" & K2 & "'!" & K3)

In this instance, K1 would contain the workbook name (Timesheets.xlsm), K2 would contain the worksheet name ("Week01"), and K3 would contain the cell desired ("L6").

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6069) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013.

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

Copying Headers and Footers

Need to get headers and footers from one document to another? You can use the steps in this tip to help make quick work ...

Discover More

AutoFilling with Weekdays

Need to fill a range of cells with the days of the week? Excel makes it easy to do so using AutoFill.

Discover More

Changing the Starting Page Number

Word normally numbers pages in a document starting at one and extending as far as the number of pages you have. If you ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Using the IRR Function

When working with finances, you often need to know the rate of return on a given investment. The most common type of ...

Discover More

Returning Blanks with VLOOKUP

Normally the VLOOKUP function returns a value, and if it can't return a value it returns a zero. Here's how you can use ...

Discover More

Using the REPT Function

Excel includes a handy function that allows you to repeat characters or strings of characters. How you use the REPT ...

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 1?

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
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.