How to Link 2 Excel Spreadsheets: A Step-by-Step Guide

Linking two Excel spreadsheets together can help you manage data more efficiently. It allows you to reference one spreadsheet from another, making it easy to update information in multiple places with a single entry. To link two spreadsheets, you’ll use formulas to reference cells from one file in another. After completing the action, you’ll have a live connection between the two spreadsheets that updates in real-time as you make changes.


Excel is a powerful tool used by millions of individuals and businesses daily. Whether you’re crunching numbers, managing schedules, or tracking inventory, Excel spreadsheets can handle it all. But what happens when you have data spread across multiple spreadsheets that need to be connected? Enter the art of linking Excel spreadsheets. This task is crucial for people who deal with large datasets that need to be synchronized across different files.

It’s particularly important for financial analysts, project managers, and anyone who needs to keep their data organized and up to date without the hassle of manual updates. Not only does linking spreadsheets save time, but it also reduces the risk of errors and ensures consistency in your data management processes.

Step by Step Tutorial to Link Excel Spreadsheets

Before linking two Excel spreadsheets, it’s important to understand what you’re about to do. This series of steps will create a dynamic connection between two separate Excel files. This means that when data is updated in one spreadsheet, it will automatically reflect in the other spreadsheet.

Step 1: Open Both Excel Spreadsheets

First, make sure both Excel spreadsheets are open. You’ll need to be able to toggle between the two.
In this step, ensure that both files are accessible. You might want to place them side by side on your screen for easier navigation.

Step 2: Select the Cell You Want to Link

In the destination spreadsheet, click on the cell where you want the linked information to appear.
This cell will display the data from the source spreadsheet. Choose a cell that will not interfere with other data in your destination spreadsheet.

Step 3: Type the Equal Sign (=)

Start creating your link by typing the equal sign (=) in the cell you selected.
The equal sign indicates that you’re about to enter a formula in Excel, which in this case, will be a link to another cell in a different spreadsheet.

Step 4: Switch to the Source Spreadsheet

Without clicking anywhere else, switch to the source spreadsheet.
Be careful not to click on another cell in the destination spreadsheet after typing the equal sign, or you’ll interrupt the link creation process.

Step 5: Select the Cell to Link

In the source spreadsheet, click on the cell containing the data you want to link.
Once you click the cell in the source spreadsheet, you’ll notice that Excel generates a formula in the destination cell that references this source cell.

Step 6: Press Enter

Hit enter on your keyboard to complete the link.
The destination cell will now show the data from the source cell, and any updates in the source will reflect in the destination spreadsheet.


Real-time UpdatesLinking spreadsheets allows for real-time updates, which means any changes made in the source spreadsheet will immediately reflect in the destination spreadsheet without the need for manual input. This ensures that your data is always up to date.
Reduced ErrorsBy eliminating the need to manually enter data across multiple spreadsheets, you reduce the risk of human error. This can save you from potentially costly mistakes.
Time EfficiencyLinking spreadsheets can significantly save time, especially when dealing with large datasets. Instead of updating multiple sheets, you only need to update one, and the rest will sync automatically.


ComplexityFor those unfamiliar with Excel, linking spreadsheets can seem complex and may require a learning curve.
Source DependencyIf the source spreadsheet is moved, deleted, or renamed, the link will break, and the destination spreadsheet will no longer update. This requires consistent file management.
Potential for ConfusionIf multiple spreadsheets are linked together, it can become confusing to track where data is coming from, which can lead to difficulties in data management.

Additional Information

When linking two Excel spreadsheets, it’s not just about connecting cells. It’s about creating a streamlined workflow that can significantly enhance your data management practices. You can link multiple cells, and even entire ranges, to show summaries or pull through detailed data sets. It’s like having a network of information highways connecting your data points seamlessly. Remember to save your work regularly, as links are only maintained in saved files.

Also, consider using Excel’s “Data Validation” feature to ensure that the data being entered into your source spreadsheet meets certain criteria, which will guarantee the integrity of your linked data. Keep in mind that linking spreadsheets is different from merging them, which is another process altogether. And, if you’re working with particularly sensitive data, always consider the security implications of linking files, especially if they’re shared across a network or the internet.


  1. Open both Excel spreadsheets.
  2. Select the cell in the destination spreadsheet.
  3. Type the equal sign (=).
  4. Switch to the source spreadsheet.
  5. Select the cell to link.
  6. Press Enter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I link more than two spreadsheets?

Yes, you can link multiple spreadsheets together, but make sure to keep track of your data sources to avoid confusion.

Will the link update if I move the source spreadsheet?

No, if you move, rename or delete the source spreadsheet, the link will break. You’ll need to re-establish the link if the source file’s location changes.

Can I undo a link between spreadsheets?

Yes, you can simply remove the formula that created the link and the connection will be broken.

Are linked Excel spreadsheets secure?

As long as your Excel files are securely stored, linking spreadsheets should not pose additional security risks. However, be cautious when sharing linked spreadsheets with others.

Can I link cells from different sheets within the same spreadsheet file?

Yes, linking can also be done between sheets within the same Excel file, and the process is similar to linking different spreadsheets.


Linking Excel spreadsheets is a robust way to manage your data efficiently. It’s all about connecting the dots in a way that’s logical, time-saving, and error-reducing. While it may seem intimidating at first, once you get the hang of it, it’ll become second nature.

Remember, the key to a seamless link is in the setup – keeping your files organized and understanding the source of your data. This practice is a game-changer for anyone looking to streamline their data management processes. So, have you linked your spreadsheets yet? If not, give it a try – your future self will thank you.

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