Excel Tutorial: How To Make One Cell Equal Another In Excel


Linking cells in Excel is a crucial skill for maintaining accurate and efficient spreadsheets. Whether you're creating a budget, tracking data, or building formulas, knowing how to make one cell equal another can save you time and reduce errors. In this tutorial, we will cover the steps to make one cell equal another in Excel, allowing you to streamline your workflow and ensure data consistency.

  • Importance of linking cells in Excel: Linking cells allows for dynamic updates, eliminates the need for manual data entry, and ensures that data remains consistent across multiple cells.
  • Overview of the tutorial's content: We will provide step-by-step instructions on how to link cells in Excel, including using simple formulas and the "equals" sign to make one cell equal another.

Key Takeaways

  • Linking cells in Excel is important for dynamic updates, data consistency, and efficiency.
  • Understanding different ways to link cells, such as using formulas and paste special, is crucial for Excel users.
  • Using cell references, whether absolute or relative, is another method for linking cells in Excel.
  • Best practices for linking cells include keeping track of linked cells and avoiding circular references.
  • Overall, understanding cell linking in Excel is essential for maintaining accurate and efficient spreadsheets.

Understanding Cell Linking

Cell linking in Excel is a way of connecting one cell to another, so that the linked cell displays the same value as the original cell. This can be a useful tool for keeping data consistent and up-to-date across multiple worksheets or workbooks.

A. Definition of cell linking in Excel

Cell linking, also known as cell referencing, is the process of creating a connection between two or more cells in Excel. When a cell is linked to another cell, it will automatically display the same value as the original cell. Any changes made to the original cell will be reflected in the linked cell as well.

B. Different ways to link cells in Excel

There are several methods for linking cells in Excel, each with its own advantages and uses.

  • Relative Cell References: When you copy a formula from one cell to another, the cell references in the formula will adjust based on their position relative to the new location. This is useful for creating flexible formulas that can be easily copied and pasted to different cells.
  • Absolute Cell References: Absolute cell references always refer to a specific cell, regardless of where the formula is copied. This is helpful when you want a formula to always refer to a specific cell, such as a constant value or a fixed reference point.
  • Named Ranges: You can create a named range in Excel to give a specific set of cells a meaningful name. This can make it easier to reference the cells in formulas, especially when working with complex datasets.
  • External References: Excel allows you to link cells between different worksheets or workbooks. This can be a powerful way to consolidate and analyze data from multiple sources.

Using Formulas to Link Cells

Using formulas in Excel can help you easily link one cell to another, allowing for automatic updates when the original cell changes. This can be a time-saving tool, particularly when dealing with large datasets or complex calculations.

A. Using the "=" sign to create a formula

  • Begin by selecting the cell where you want the linked value to appear.
  • Enter the equal sign (=) in the formula bar, followed by the reference to the cell you want to link to. For example, to link to cell A1, you would enter "=A1".
  • Press Enter, and the linked value will appear in the selected cell.

B. Example of using formulas to link cells

  • Let's say you have a spreadsheet with sales data, and you want to calculate the total sales for the month. You can use a formula to link to the individual sales figures in each cell and automatically calculate the total.
  • For example, if your sales data is in cells B2 to B31, you can create a formula in cell B32 that links to each individual cell and sums them up, such as "=SUM(B2:B31)".
  • Now, whenever you update the sales figures for the month, the total will automatically update based on the linked cells.

Using Paste Special to Link Cells

When working with Excel, there may be times when you need one cell to equal another. Using the Paste Special feature can help you link cells together efficiently.

Steps to use Paste Special feature

  • Select the cell you want to link to another cell.
  • Copy the content of the cell by pressing Ctrl + C.
  • Right-click on the cell where you want the content to be linked.
  • Choose Paste Special from the menu.
  • In the Paste Special dialog box, select Link and click OK.

Advantages of using Paste Special for linking cells

  • Efficiency: Using Paste Special to link cells saves time compared to manually inputting the same data in multiple cells.
  • Accuracy: By linking cells, you ensure that the content is the same in both places, reducing the risk of errors.
  • Dynamic updates: If the original cell's content changes, the linked cell will automatically update, maintaining consistency across your spreadsheet.

Using Cell References to Link Cells

When working with Excel, one of the most powerful features is the ability to link cells together using cell references. This allows you to create dynamic relationships between different cells, so that changes in one cell automatically update another. Let's explore how to do this using absolute and relative cell references.

A. Understanding absolute vs. relative cell references
  • Absolute cell references - When you use an absolute cell reference, you are fixing the reference to a specific cell, no matter where you copy the formula to. This is denoted by adding a dollar sign before the column letter and row number (e.g. $A$1).
  • Relative cell references - In contrast, using a relative cell reference means that the reference will change based on the relative position of the cells. When you copy the formula, the reference will adjust accordingly. Relative references do not have the dollar sign (e.g. A1).

B. An example of using cell references to link cells

Let's say you have a spreadsheet with two columns: "Quantity" in column A and "Price" in column B. You want to create a formula in column C that calculates the total value of each item (Quantity * Price). Here's how you can do it using cell references:

  • Select cell C1.

Using absolute cell references

  • In cell C1, enter the formula: =A1*B1.
  • Copy the formula down for the entire column, and you will see that the cell references remain fixed to A1 and B1, regardless of where you copy the formula.

Using relative cell references

  • In cell C1, enter the formula: =A1*B1.
  • Copy the formula down for the entire column, and you will see that the cell references adjust based on their relative position. For example, in cell C2, the formula will become =A2*B2.

By understanding absolute and relative cell references, you can effectively link cells together in Excel to create dynamic and interconnected spreadsheets.

Best Practices for Linking Cells

When working with linked cells in Excel, it’s important to follow best practices to ensure accuracy and efficiency in your spreadsheets. Here are some key best practices to keep in mind:

Keeping track of linked cells

  • Use clear and consistent naming conventions: When linking cells, it’s helpful to use a clear and consistent naming convention for easy reference. This can include using descriptive names or labels for the cells being linked.
  • Document linked cells: Keep a record or documentation of the cells that are linked to each other. This can be helpful for troubleshooting or auditing purposes in the future.
  • Utilize comments: Add comments to linked cells to provide additional context or explanations, especially if the linking relationship is complex.

Avoiding circular references

  • Understand circular references: Be aware of circular references, which occur when a formula refers to its own cell. This can cause errors in calculations and should be avoided.
  • Use error checking tools: Excel has built-in error checking tools that can help identify and resolve circular references. Take advantage of these tools to ensure the accuracy of your linked cells.
  • Review formulas carefully: Before linking cells, carefully review the formulas and references to ensure they do not create circular references unintentionally.


In conclusion, there are several methods to link cells in Excel, including using the equals sign, the formula bar, or the paste special function. It is important to understand cell linking in Excel as it allows for efficient data management and ensures that data is accurately updated across multiple cells. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced user, mastering the art of cell linking will enhance your Excel skills and make your workflow more seamless.

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