Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Invalid Names when Opening Workbook.

Invalid Names when Opening Workbook

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 16, 2020)

Vivek received a workbook from a colleague and when he tries to open it he gets an error: "One or more invalid names were detected in this workbook. Those invalid names have been changed to #REF." This means he can't see some of the calculations. The same workbook is okay when sent to another colleague, so Vivek wonders why the workbook won't work for him but it does for his colleague.

This problem is probably due to one of two things. First, it is possible that your colleague's system has some add-ins loaded that allow the workbook to function properly, but you don't have them. The solution is to display the add-ins that are being loaded on your colleague's system. Write them on a piece of paper, start Excel on your system, and then make sure you have the same add-ins loaded.

The other possibility is that the workbook includes formulas that are linking to external data from other workbooks. It is entirely possible that your colleague's system has access to those other workbooks (either locally on his system or over a network) and you don't have access to them. The only way to determine this, again, is from your colleague's system. Have him load the workbook and look for external links it may contain. Figure out where that external data is located, and then make sure you have access to that same data on your system.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (12349) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Invalid Names when Opening 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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