How to Make Excel Spreadsheets Communicate With Each Other

By Stephanie Ellen

Microsoft Excel is spreadsheet software that helps you to organize vast amounts of data. Data is organized into workbooks with one or more worksheets. For example, you may have a workbook for "Income" with separate sheets for all of your income sources. If you want Excel to total up all of your income from all of the worksheets, you have to get Excel to "communicate" with each worksheet, by entering an appropriate formula and showing Excel which data you want where.

Step 1

Create a new sheet in Excel by clicking on the "New Sheet" icon at the bottom of any existing sheet.

Step 2

Click on the cell where you want the formula. In this example, you are adding up the totals from several sheets and placing the total in cell A1. So click on cell "A1."

Step 3

Enter a "=" into the cell. This alerts Excel that you are entering a formula.

Step 4

Navigate to one of the other worksheets and find a cell with a total in it. Click on that cell. The formula that Excel uses to identify that specific cell will be displayed in the top input area.

Step 5

Press the "+" button--because you are adding up totals in this example to get a grand total.

Step 6

Navigate to another total anywhere in a worksheet--even a different worksheet. Click on the total you want to add to the grand total.

Step 7

Continue finding totals and pressing the "+" key until you have a list of all cells you want to add in the input area.

Step 8

Press "Enter." Excel will immediately return you to the original cell. In this example, it's the grand total cell. It will add the totals from the worksheets and display the total sum.

Tips & Warnings

  • Excel updates dynamically. In other words, if you change any of the total figures on any of the worksheet, Excel will communicate this fact to any other worksheet where you have entered that cell number, such as the grand total cell you created.