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Break Links to External References in Excel: A Quick Guide

Excel can be useful for managing data from external documents, but sometimes it can be frustrating when those external links are broken or outdated. When you have a workbook with external references, it can be difficult to manage and update the data.

Whether you’re working with a small or large workbook, it’s important to keep your data up-to-date and accurate. Breaking links to external references in Excel can help you do just that, and it’s a simple process that can save you time and frustration in the long run.

What Is an External Reference?

When working with Excel, it is common to use data from other workbooks or worksheets. An external reference, also known as a link or a formula link, is a reference to a cell or range of cells in another workbook or worksheet.

And this is the Sheet1 referenced

External references can however cause problems if not managed properly.

For example, if the source workbook or worksheet is moved or deleted, the external reference will no longer work. This can result in errors in the formula or the data displayed in the cell.

To avoid these issues, it is important to understand how to manage external references in Excel. This includes breaking links to external references when they are no longer needed or when they are causing problems.

Break/Remove Links Using Edit Links Option

If you want to break links to external references in Excel, you can use the Edit Links option. This option allows you to view and edit all the links in your workbook. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Go to the Data tab on the ribbon and click the Edit Links button in the Connections group. If this button is grayed out, it means that there are no external links in your workbook.
  • In the Edit Links dialog box that appears, select the link that you want to break.
  • Click the Break Link button to break the selected link. Alternatively, click the Update Values button to update the link with the current values in the source file.
  • If you want to break all the links in your workbook, click the Break All Links button. This will break all the links and convert the external references to their current values.

Note that breaking links to external references in Excel may cause some of your formulas to return errors. This is because the formulas are no longer linked to the external data source. To fix this, you may need to update the formulas manually or use a different method to retrieve the data.

In addition, if you have charts or chart elements that use external references, you will need to remove the external links from them before you can break the links in your workbook. To do this, select the chart or chart element, click the Chart Tools tab on the ribbon, and then click the Edit Data button in the Data group. In the Edit Data dialog box that appears, remove any external links and click OK to save your changes.

Overall, using the Edit Links option is a quick and easy way to break links to external references in Excel. Just be sure to update any formulas or charts that may be affected by the change.

Break Links Using the Copy and Paste as Values Method

One easy way to break links to external references in Excel is by using the copy and paste as values method. This method works by copying the cells with external references, pasting them as values, and then deleting the original cells with external references.

To use this method, follow these steps:

  • Select the cell or range of cells that have the external reference.
  • Press Ctrl + C or right-click on the selected cells and click on Copy to copy the cells.
  • Right-click on the same selected cell and click on Paste Special.
  • In the Paste Special dialog box, select Values and click on OK.

This will paste the copied cells as values, removing any external references and creating a new set of cells with only the values.

Once you have pasted the cells as values, you can delete the original cells with external references. To do this, simply select the original cells and press the Delete key.

Using the copy and paste as values method is a quick and easy way to break links to external references in Excel. It is especially useful when you want to retain the values of the external references but remove the links to the original source.

How to Find All Cells with Links to External Excel Files

When working with Excel files that have links to external sources, it’s important to be able to identify all the cells that contain these links. This is useful in case you need to break these links or update them.

Here are some ways to find all the cells with links to external Excel files:

1. Using the Name Manager

One way to find cells with links to external Excel files is by using the Name Manager. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Click on the “Formulas” tab in the ribbon.
  • Click on the “Name Manager” button.
  • Look for any names that have a reference to an external file. These will be listed in the “Refers to” column.

2. Using the Find and Replace Feature

Another way to find cells with links to external Excel files is by using the Find and Replace feature. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Press “Ctrl + F” to open the Find and Replace dialog box.
  • Click on the “Options” button.
  • In the “Look in” dropdown, select “Formulas”.
  • In the “Find what” field, enter “.xls” or “.xlsx” (without the quotes).
  • Click on the “Find All” button.

This will display a list of all the cells that contain links to external Excel files.

3. Using the Edit Links Feature

Finally, you can also use the Edit Links feature to find cells with links to external Excel files. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the “Data” tab in the ribbon.
  2. Click on the “Edit Links” button.
  3. In the Edit Links dialog box, you will see a list of all the external links in your workbook. You can click on each link to see which cells are linked to it.

By using any of these methods, you can quickly find all the cells that contain links to external Excel files in your workbook.

Conclusion

In conclusion, breaking links to external references in Excel is an essential task that every user should know. It helps to prevent errors and inaccuracies in the data. By following the steps outlined in this article, users can easily break links to external references in Excel.

It is important to note that breaking links can sometimes result in the loss of data. Therefore, users must carefully review the data before breaking any links. Additionally, users should keep a backup of the original data to avoid any data loss.

Overall, Excel is a powerful tool that can help users manage and analyze large amounts of data. By understanding how to break links to external references, users can ensure the accuracy and integrity of their data.

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