Google Sheets: How to Reference Cell in Another Workbook

Want to pull data from one Google Sheets workbook into another? It’s easier than you might think! All it takes is a simple formula that references the cell you need from the other workbook. After reading this quick overview, you’ll be ready to link up your workbooks in no time.

Step by Step Tutorial: Google Sheets How to Reference Cell in Another Workbook

Before we dive into the steps, let’s understand what we’re aiming to achieve. By referencing a cell in another workbook, you’ll be able to pull data from one Google Sheets file into another, keeping your information synchronized and up-to-date.

Step 1: Open both workbooks

First things first, you’ll need to have both Google Sheets workbooks open.

Having both workbooks open will make it easier to switch back and forth as you set up your cell reference. Ensure you have editing access to both sheets.

Step 2: Copy the URL of the source workbook

Next, you’ll need to copy the URL of the workbook that contains the cell you want to reference.

Copy the entire URL from the address bar while you have the source workbook open. You’ll be using this URL in the formula that creates the cell reference.

Step 3: Use the IMPORTRANGE function

In the workbook where you want the data to appear, type the =IMPORTRANGE function into the cell where you want the data to display.

The IMPORTRANGE function is the key to this whole process. Its syntax is =IMPORTRANGE(“spreadsheet_url”, “range_string”), where “spreadsheet_url” is the URL you copied, and “range_string” is the cell or range of cells you’re referencing.

Step 4: Enter the URL and cell reference

In the formula, paste the URL you copied in quotation marks, followed by a comma and the cell reference in another set of quotation marks.

Make sure the cell reference includes the sheet name and cell number, for example, “Sheet1!A1”. This tells Google Sheets exactly where to look for the data.

Step 5: Allow access

If this is the first time you’re linking these workbooks, Google Sheets will ask for permission to access the source workbook. Click “Allow.”

Granting permission creates a link between the two workbooks, ensuring the data in your reference cell is always current.

After completing these steps, the data from the source workbook cell will appear in the cell where you entered the formula. Now, whenever the source cell is updated, the changes will automatically reflect in your workbook.

Tips: Google Sheets How to Reference Cell in Another Workbook

  • Always double-check your cell references to make sure they are accurate.
  • Keep in mind that the IMPORTRANGE function can also reference a range of cells, not just a single cell.
  • Remember that you need to have view or edit access to the source workbook for the data to be imported.
  • If you make changes to the source workbook, like renaming the sheet or cells, you will need to update the cell references in the IMPORTRANGE function accordingly.
  • The data import might not be instantaneous; sometimes it takes a few seconds for the data to appear.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I get a #REF! error?

This usually means there’s something wrong with your cell reference. Double-check that the sheet name and cell number are correct and that you have access to the source workbook.

Can I reference a cell in a workbook that’s not owned by me?

Yes, as long as you have viewing or editing permissions on that workbook, you can reference its cells.

How often does the data update from the source cell?

The data will update almost instantly as changes are made in the source cell. However, there might be a slight delay depending on your internet connection.

Is there a limit to how many cells I can reference?

Technically, no. But Google Sheets might slow down if you’re importing a vast amount of data using multiple IMPORTRANGE functions.

Can I use the IMPORTRANGE function to reference cells across multiple workbooks?

Absolutely! You can use multiple IMPORTRANGE functions in one workbook to pull data from various sources.


  1. Open both workbooks
  2. Copy the URL of the source workbook
  3. Use the IMPORTRANGE function
  4. Enter the URL and cell reference
  5. Allow access


Linking data between Google Sheets workbooks can vastly improve the efficiency of your workflows and data management. By following the steps outlined above, you can create dynamic and interconnected spreadsheets that automatically update with the latest information. Whether you’re consolidating financial records, tracking inventory, or managing a project, knowing how to reference a cell in another workbook is a valuable skill in your Google Sheets toolbox. So go ahead, give it a try, and watch as your productivity skyrockets! Remember, the more you practice, the more seamless your data management will become with Google Sheets.

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