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: Filling References to Another Workbook.

Filling References to Another Workbook

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 25, 2021)

When you use Excel's Paste tool to create a reference to a cell in another Excel workbook (not another worksheet in the same workbook), Excel creates the reference in this manner:
='[Sales Master.xls]Sheet1'!$A$5
The presence of the dollar signs means that this is an absolute reference to the cell. Because of this, you cannot use any of Excel's automatic fill options, such as Fill Right (Ctrl+R) or Fill Down (Ctrl+D) or AutoFill, and get the results you expect. Instead, every cell in the filled cells will reference the exact same cell in the external workbook. The solution to the problem is to make a quick modification to the referencing formula before you do the fill. If you remove the dollar signs (both of them), then the formula is now relative, and filling will work the way you expect.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10482) 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: Filling References to Another Workbook.

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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