Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. 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: Using Named Formulas Across Workbooks.

Using Named Formulas Across Workbooks

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 12, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


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Excel allows you to define names that refer to specific cells or ranges of cells in a workbook. In the same manner (using the Define Name tool on the Formulas tab of the ribbon) 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 New Name dialog box (click the Define Name tool on the Formulas tab of the ribbon) 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 (8668) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel 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. ...

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What is nine minus 3?

2022-10-09 13:23:39

Mike

I would like to understand how to use a named cell from workbook A in the formula of workbook B to make the formula in workbook B clearer...I'm an intermediate


2019-10-05 11:00:40

Robert H. Gascon

An example of a named formula that can be copied across workbooks is this:
https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Excel/Excel-NumToWords-Formula/m-p/727433


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