Microsoft Excel provides several methods for linking values across worksheets or across workbooks. Which method you choose will depend on your desired end result. This article will review the pros and cons of each method.
Linking by creating a formula. With this method you can create an inter-active link between worksheets or workbooks. The linked cells do not need to be in the same location on all worksheets. You can perform any math operation while creating the link. For example, you could take a figure from one worksheet, multiply it times a figure form another worksheet and then subtract a number from a third worksheet. You can use this method to link cells across worksheets or workbooks. One disadvantage of this method is that it is time consuming because you are working with one cell at a time. Using named ranges can assist with this method of linking and make it easier to read your formulas once they are created.
Creating a Sum across worksheets. This is also an inter-active link. If a number changes on one worksheet, the sheet with the summary formula will also be updated. If a worksheet is inserted between worksheets in the sum, the sum will automatically be updated. Some of the disadvantages of this method are that all of the linked cells must be in the same location on all worksheets. Also, you can only sum one cell at a time (although you can copy the formula to other cells in the summary worksheet.) Using group mode to create identical spreadsheets will help when using the sum function across worksheets. This method is also limited to within a workbook and cannot be done across workbooks.
Using the Consolidation feature. You can determine whether or not the link will be interactive when creating the consolidation. This method provides the greatest level of detail in the summary worksheet. You can choose between any function, not just the sum function. For example, you could create an average of several divisions in a summary worksheet. Some of the disadvantages of this method are that the worksheets must be identical. Although it is not impossible, it is difficult to use consolidation across workbooks.
Using Paste Link. This also creates an inter-active link. The linked cells do not need to be in the same location on all worksheets. You can link between worksheets or workbooks. This is a great way to link totals from one worksheet to another, however, you do not have the detail that is provided by Consolidation.