Linking in Excel (A Complete Guide)

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In this tutorial, we will demonstrate a guide about linking in Excel. This further teaches us to link files, web pages, email addresses, etc. Finally, we will customize links, move and remove them from our workbook.

Linking dynamically pulls data from one sheet into another, and updates the data in your destination sheet whenever you change the contents of a cell in your source sheet. Using linking in Excel, you can make an Index sheet or a Summary page for your projects.

Read the full article to have an expert perspective on linking in Excel. Before that, see the overview image of this article below.

Overview of linking in Excel

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An Overview of Linking in Excel

A link is like a clicky door that takes you to another place, like a webpage, a picture, an email, or a program. You can click on the text or a picture to use a link.

When you click a link, it shows the new place in your internet explorer, opens a file or starts a program. For instance, a link to a webpage makes the page appear in your browser, and a link to a video file opens it in a video player.

Absolute v/s Relative Linking in Excel
An Absolute URL has the whole address, including the protocol, server, and path with the file name.

A Relative URL is like a puzzle piece; it’s missing some parts. Those missing pieces come from the page where the URL is found. If, for example, the protocol and server are missing, the web browser uses the current page’s protocol and domain (like .com, .org, or .edu).

On the web, it’s usual to use relative URLs with just a part of the path and file name. If the files go to another server, the links still work if the positions of the pages stay the same. For instance, a link on Products.htm points to a page named apple.htm in a folder named Food. If both pages move to a different server but still stay in a folder named Food, the link’s URL stays correct.

Why Do We Use Linking in Excel?
We use linking in Excel for:

  • Go to a file or webpage on a network, inside a company’s network, or on the internet.
  • Go to a file or webpage you’ll make later.
  • Send an email.
  • Begin moving a file, like downloading, or use FTP (File Transfer Protocol).

Best Practices for Linking in Excel
5 practices for linking in Excel are:

  • Use Short File Name.
  • Insert Meaningful Name Range.
  • Enable Automatic Calculation.
  • Backup your data.
  • Show Snapshot of Linked Range.

How to Link Cells Within Same Workbook in Excel

In this section, we will discuss all possible ways to link cells within the same workbook in Excel.

1. Mirror Cell Data from Another Sheet Using Equal (=) Sign

We can mirror cell data from different sheets by linking cells.

1.1 Single Cell

  • Move to Single sheet and enter Equal (=) sign in D5 >> click on Summary sheet.

Writing = in D5 and opening Summary sheet

  • In Summary sheet, click on D5 >> press Enter key.

Selecting D5 in Summary sheet

  • Thus, we link the sheets and value appears in D5.
  • Drag the AutoFill tool down to get other values.

Completed linking in Single and Summary sheets in Excel

1.2 Multiple Cells

  • To link multiple cells, add Equal (=) to D5 of Multiple sheet >> go to Summary sheet.

Typing = in D5 of Multiple sheet

  • In Summary sheet, select the range D5:D12 >> press Enter button.

Selecting D5:D12 in Summary sheet

  • Consequently, the list appears in Multiple sheet linking the two sheets as well.

Linking Multiple and Summary sheets in Excel

2. Use Copy and Paste Link Commands

  • In the Summary sheet, select range D5:D12 >> go to Home tab >> Copy.

Select Copy option in Home tab for linking in Excel

  • Now, go to Paste Link sheet >> place cursor on D5 >> go to Home tab >> Paste >> Paste Link.

Paste Link option in Paste section

Cells of present sheet are now linked with Summary sheet.

3. Link Cells Using Named Range

  • First, create a named range by selecting range D5:D12 >> type Details in Name box. See the below picture for better understanding.

Naming D5:D12 Details in Name box

  • Later, in another sheet, type the following texts in D5:
  • It calls the named range in the corresponding cell.

Calling Details named range in D5

  • Subsequently, the value appears linking the ranges in 2 sheets.

Details named range appears in column D


In this type of linking, a Blue border appears around the range. It means any editing or changing in the range will return #SPILL! error.

#SPILL! Error while linking in Excel

Read More: Link Cells in Excel

4. Use Plus Sign to Sum Multiple Linked Values

  • Initially, type Equal (=) in C5 >> click on Summary sheet.

Entering Equal in C5 of Multiple Sum sheet

  • Further, click C5 >> enter Plus (+) sign >> tap E5.

Selecting C5 and E5 and adding Plus sign

  • As a result, the sum of the two cells appears in another sheet.

Total price appears in C5 for linking in Excel

5. Apply SUM Function to Get Multiple Linked Data

You can also use an alternative of the previous method by using the SUM function.

  • Firstly, type =SUM( in C5 >> click Summary sheet.

Using SUM function in C5 of SUM sheet

  • In Summary tab, click C5 >> add Plus (+) >> E5 and close the 1st bracket as well.

Selecting SUM components in the Summary sheet

  • Therefore, we obtain the summation using SUM function.

Summation of 2 columns appears in SUM sheet

How to Link Sheets in Excel with Index

Previously, we showed how to link cells in Excel from different sheets. Now, we will show how to link sheets in Excel. Here, we will link the cell values with desired sheets. By clicking on cells, we will move to linked sheets as well.

  • To link sheet with an Index page select B5 >> go to Insert tab >> Link >> Insert Link.

Clicking Insert Link option in Link feature

  • In Insert Hyperlink dialog box, click Place in This Document >> Quarter 1 >> OK.

Selecting Quater 1 sheet in Place in This Document

Here, the cell reference A1 means we will move to cell A1 of the linked sheet.

  • Also, type the following formula in C5 to get the total revenue of Quarter 1.
='Quarter 1'!D16

Matching Total Revenue in C5 of Index sheet with C5 of Quater 1 sheet

  • Similarly, insert the links in other cells as well.
  • Now, click on Q3.

Clicking Q3 to text linking in Excel

  • In return, we will move to the Quarter 3 sheet automatically.

Completed linking to Index Excel sheet

How to Link Excel Files in Excel

In this section, we will show how to link other Excel files in Excel.

1. Link to a New File

  • To link a new file, select D5 >> press Ctrl + K keys.

Pressing Ctrl + K shortcut keys

  • In the Insert Hyperlink dialog, click Creat New Document >> Change >> select file in Name of new document >> write link text Text to display in ScreenTip >> OK.

Clicking Create New Document option in Insert Hyperlink dialog

  • As a result, the link appears.

Linking text in D5

2. Link Existing Microsoft Files

We can also existing Microsoft files easily in Excel.

  • To link a Microsoft file, select D5 >> and tap Ctrl + K to insert a hyperlink.

Press Ctrl + K keys to link Microsoft files

  • In Insert Hyperlink dialog, click on Existing File or Web Page >> Current Folder >> select a Microsoft Word file >> type the text you want to display in ScreenTip >> OK.

Clicking Existing File or Web Page in Insert Hyperlink dialog

  • Consequently, the link with text appears in D5.

Link appears in D5

How to Link Web Pages to Excel File

We will use the HYPERLINK function to link web pages to Excel files. We have web page names and web addresses in the modified dataset, Now, we will link those web pages in Excel.

  • In D5, enter the following formula:

Cell reference in HYPERLINK function in D5

Here, we use cell reference in the function. You can also use links and texts in HYPERLINK function as well.

  • See the formula in D6,
=HYPERLINK("", "Google")

Web links in HYPERLINK function in D6

This formula returns a link to go to Google web browser.

How to Link Image File in Excel

We can also link any image file in Excel easily.

  • To link an image file, click on Existing File or Web Page >> Current Folder >> select an image file >> type link text in ScreenTip >> OK.

Existing File or Web Page for linking Image file

  • Therefore, the link to open the image file appears in D5.

Image file link appears in D5 for linking in excel

How to Link Email Address in Excel

  • To link an Email Address in Excel, open the Insert Hyperlink dialog as shown previously >> click Email Adress >> fill E-mail address box >> Text to display >> Subject >> hit OK.

E-mail Address option in Insert Hyperlink dialog

  • The email address with the link appears in the respective cell.

E-mail address link appears in D5 for linking in excel

How to Customize Existing Links Appearance in Excel Worksheet

  • To customize link appearance, select the links >> go to Home tab >> Cell Styles.

Clicking Cell Styles option in Home tab for changing link appearance

  • Select Linked Cell option in Data and Model.

Selecting Linked Cell option in Data and Model group

  • Eventually, the link text appearance changes.

Link appearance changes in column D

How to Copy or Move Links in Excel

  • To move a link, simply select cell with link >> press Ctrl + X to cut the link. Here, we selected D6.

Pressing Ctrl + X keys to cut link

  • Now, locate B6 >> press Ctrl + V to paste the link. Subsequently, we moved the link from D6 to B6.

Moving link by pressing Ctrl + V in B6

How to Modify Links for Error Handling in Excel

Sometimes, linking may return error alerts in Excel due to the deletion of the source file or other reasons.

  • For example, clicking the link in D6 returns the below error alert.

Warning alert for clicking link in D6

  • In that case, right-click on D6 >> go to Edit Hyperlink dialog.
  • Alternatively, you can go to Link feature in Insert tab or press Ctrl + K shortcut keys.

Edit Hyperlink option in context menu

  • There, click Place in This Document >> choose a correct source >> OK.

Fixing link error in Edit Hyperlink dialog for linking in excel

Hence, we handle the error.

How to Remove Links in Excel

  • Lastly, to remove a link, right-click on the link >> locate and click Remove Hyperlink option in the context menu.

Remove Hyperlink option in context menu

  • Consequently, the link disappears in D5.

Removing link in Excel in regards to linking in excel

Read More: Remove Links in Excel

Things to Remember

  • Make sure your calculations in the spreadsheet update automatically with new data insertion. For that, go to the Calculation section in Excel’s ribbon, click the arrow by Calculation Options, and choose Automatic.
  • Find where your links are, match them with spreadsheet names, and this avoids accidental changes in your spreadsheets.
  • If there’s a broken link in your workbook, then you can either fix the link or remove it. To fix the link, go to Edit Links in Data tab.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a URL and how it works in Excel?
A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is a web address that points to a specific location on the internet, such as a website, a file, or a resource. In Excel, you can use URLs to create hyperlinks that allow you to quickly access web pages, files, or other content.

2. How do I update linked data?
You can update linked data manually by right-clicking the cell containing the link and selecting Update Link. Alternatively, you can set links to update automatically when the source data changes.

3. What if I encounter errors with my links?
Excel provides error messages for invalid or broken links. Double-check your link addresses and the integrity of your linked files.


To summarize, we have discussed all things to know about linking in Excel. Hopefully, you can now implement the methods in your own projects. Linking sheets enable you to replicate the sheet, saving a lot of time. If you have any queries or suggestions, let us know in the comment box. Thank you for reading.

Linking in Excel: Knowledge Hub

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Yousuf Khan
Yousuf Khan

Yousuf Khan has been working with the ExcelDemy project for over one year. He has written 47+ articles for the ExcelDemy site. He also solved a lot of user problems with ExcelDemy Forum. He has interests in Excel & VBA, Desktop and mobile applications, and projects & templates. He completed his graduation and post-graduation in Information Technology from Jahangirnagar University. Currently, he works as a VBA & Excel Content Developer in ExcelDemy projects, writing unique and informative content... Read Full Bio

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