Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 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: Finding Wayward Links.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 25, 2019)
Many people are faced with the task of updating workbooks inherited from other people in their offices. In fact, you may be faced with such a challenge. For instance, let's say you inherit two workbooks which contain links to each other. You want to combine the two of them into a single workbook. When you try to do so, the links between the two are broken automatically by Excel.
There are several ways around this problem. The "manual" method is to use the Formula Auditing tools (see the group of the same name on the Formulas tab of the ribbon) to find the links in your original worksheets. You can then make note of the cells and make the changes after you move the worksheets to their final workbook.
Another method that may be more automatic is to insert blank worksheets in the target workbook and then copy the contents of the source worksheets and paste them in the new worksheets. In other words, don't right-click on the worksheet tab and use the Move or Copy option. Instead, use the tried-and-true Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V method of cut and paste. The result is that everything from the source worksheets is copied, without any alterations by Excel.
At this point you have two ways to proceed. You can use Ctrl+F to search for all instances of the exclamation mark. This should find all cells that contain links (since exclamation marks are used in links such as BookABC!SheetXYZ!A47). You can then edit the contents of the cell directly to remove the link. You can also use Ctrl+H to find the base part of each link and replace it with something else. For instance, you could find all instances of BookABC!SheetXYZ! in the previous example and replace it with either nothing or with a different worksheet name.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9782) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Finding Wayward Links.
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