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: Unbreakable Formula References to Worksheets.

Unbreakable Formula References to Worksheets

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 14, 2015)

1

Alan has a workbook that has two worksheets: "September Data" and "Overview Report." On the second worksheet he has references, within formulas, to cells on the first worksheet. When a new month comes around, Alan needs to change the name of the "September Data" worksheet to "October Data," which breaks all the formulas on the other worksheet. He wonders how he can change the formulas that reference the first worksheet so that they don't break when he changes the first worksheet's name.

First of all, it should be said that this behavior (as described) is not normal for Excel. If you are in the Overview Report worksheet and you create a formula that references a cell on the September Data worksheet, then any changes to the name of the September Data worksheet should be automatically reflected in the formulas in any other worksheets in the workbook. The only time this isn't the case is if you have a formula that uses the INDIRECT function to reference something on the worksheet, as exampled here:

=INDIRECT("'September Data'!A3")

The reason it doesn't change is because the worksheet name is contained within single quote marks (apostrophes), meaning it is viewed as a string constant that should not be changed. If you need to use INDIRECT, then place the worksheet name off in some other cell and reference that cell in the INDIRECT formula, as described in other issues of ExcelTips. You can then change the contents of the referenced cell to reflect the name of the worksheet you want to use.

If you don't want to change your formulas in this way, then you can use Find and Replace to change the references after you rename the September Data worksheet. Follow these steps:

  1. Display the second worksheet (Overview Report).
  2. Press Ctrl+H to display the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  3. Click the Options button, if it is visible. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  5. In the Find What box enter "September Data" (without the quote marks).
  6. In the Replace With box enter "October Data" (without the quote marks).
  7. Make sure the Look In drop-down list is set to Formulas.
  8. Click Replace All.

Another option that works well is to simply define named ranges in the September Data worksheet. Each cell (or range of cells) should be assigned a name that you can then use in formulas on other worksheets. Any changes to the worksheet name will not affect the use of the named ranges at all.

Finally, you could consider looking at your data layout. For instance, you might be better off to not have a worksheet named "September Data." Instead, create a worksheet named "Current Month" and reference it in your formulas. When the start of a new month rolls around, copy the data from the Current Month worksheet and archive it in a new worksheet that bears the name of the month it represents (such as "September Data"). This way you're always working with the current data and have the older months' data available for review at any time you need.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10812) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Unbreakable Formula References to Worksheets.

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

Special Characters in Pattern Matching

The most powerful search engine in Word use pattern matching, but the way you specify special characters in a ...

Discover More

Taking Pictures

Have you ever wanted to take a "picture" of a part of a worksheet and put it in another section? This tip explains how to use ...

Discover More

Renaming a Document

Need to change the name of an existing document? There are two ways you can do it, using either Docs or Drive.

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

MORE EXCELTIPS (RIBBON)

Jumping to a Specific Worksheet

Want to make fast work of moving from one worksheet to another? Here's how to do the task when you have a lot of worksheets ...

Discover More

Returning a Worksheet Name

Need to know the name of the current worksheet? You can use the CELL function as the basis for finding this information and ...

Discover More

Freezing Top Rows and Bottom Rows

Freezing the top rows in a worksheet so that they are always visible is easy to do. Freezing the bottom rows is not so easy. ...

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 for this tip:

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. 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 7 + 8?

2015-07-17 03:03:46

divya

Dear sir,
I have doubt in excel.kindly reply asap.

doubt:i have 3 sht in one workbook.i have taken range of cells from 2nd sht to sum(lets say A3:A5 which is empty)in 1st sht.And again in 2nd sheet in cell A2,i used if function to calculate the values from 1st sheet(I got answer till this).with the help of cell A2 in 2nd sht,i have to separate the value of A2 according to the percentage in the range(A3:A5)so that it can display value in 1st sht,which is already used for summing in 1st sheet.now,eg:A2=140 if I give percentage (=A2*40%)in A3, the value is changing in A2=84, since because I have selected the range earlier for 1st sheet.but I don't want that change, I need it as(A2=140)with the value in A3=56.suggest me better a option


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.

Links and Sharing