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You can sync Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to ensure that changes in one will automatically be reflected in another. It is possible to create links between different worksheets as well as separate Excel workbooks. Let’s look at three ways to do this.

Sync Excel Spreadsheets Using the Paste Link Feature

The Paste Link functionality in Excel provides a simple way to sync Excel spreadsheets. In this example, we want to create a summary sheet of sales totals from multiple different worksheets.

Start by opening your Excel spreadsheet, clicking on the cell that you want to link to, and then selecting the “Copy” button on the “Home” tab.

Copy the source data

Select the cell that you are linking from, click the “Paste” list arrow, then select “Paste Link.”

Sync spreadsheets with Paste Link

The address that the cell it is synced to is shown in the Formula Bar. It contains the sheet name followed by the cell address.

Link to the source data in the Formula Bar

Sync Excel Spreadsheets Using a Formula

Another approach is to create the formula ourselves without using the Paste Link button.

Sync Cells on Different Worksheets

First, click the cell you are creating the link from and type “=”.

Creating a cell link

Next, select the sheet containing the cell you want to link to. The sheet reference is shown in the Formula Bar.

Sheet reference in the Formula Bar.

Finally, click the cell you want to link to. The completed formula is shown in the Formula Bar. Press the “Enter” key.

Excel formula to sync cells

Sync Cells on Separate Workbooks

You can also link to a cell on the sheet of a different workbook entirely. To do this, you must first make sure that the other workbook is open before you begin the formula.

Click the cell you want to link from and type “=”. Switch to the other workbook, select the sheet,  then click on the cell to link to. The workbook name precedes the sheet name in the formula bar.

Link to another Excel workbook

If the Excel workbook you have linked to is closed, the formula will shown the complete path to the file.

Complete file path to closed workbook

And when the workbook containing the link to another workbook is opened, you will probably be greeted with a message to enable the update of links. This depends on your security settings.

Click “Enable Content” to ensure that updates in the other workbook are automatically reflected in the current one.

Enable content to update links

Sync Excel Spreadsheets Using a Lookup Function

The previous methods of syncing two sheets or workbooks use links to a specific cell. Sometimes, this may not be good enough because the link will return the incorrect value if the data gets sorted and moved to a different cell. In these scenarios, using a lookup function is a good approach.

There are numerous lookup functions, but the most commonly used is VLOOKUP, so let’s use that.

In this example, we have a simple list of employee data.

List of employee data

On another worksheet, we are storing training data about the employees. We want to search for and return the age of the employees for analysis.

This function requires four pieces of information: what to look for, where to look, the column number with the value to return, and what type of lookup you need.

The following VLOOKUP formula was used.


VLOOKUP function to link to data on another worksheet

A2 contains the employee ID to look for on the Employees sheet in the range A:D. Column 4 of that range contains the age to return. And False specifies an exact lookup on the ID.

The method you choose to sync Excel spreadsheets together is largely decided by how your data is structured and how it is used.

Profile Photo for Alan Murray Alan Murray
Alan Murray has worked as an Excel trainer and consultant for twenty years. On most days, he can be found teaching Excel in a classroom or seminar. Alan gets a buzz from helping people improve their productivity and working lives with Excel.
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