Cell linking is useful when you want to consolidate information from multiple sheets. Use cell linking to create a master or roll-up sheet, to keep track of cross-project date dependencies, or simply to ensure that values stay current across a collection of sheets without a lot of re-typing.
Jump to video demonstration: Creating Cell Links
In this article:
- Understanding Inbound and Outbound links (source and destination sheets)
- Creating an inbound cell link (start from the destination sheet)
- Using the Paste Special feature to create a link (start from the source sheet)
- Removing cell links
- Identifying which cell types can't be linked
NOTE: Linking can be done only at the cell level. It's not possible to link entire sheets, columns, or rows. Only cells that contain data, or that previously contained data, can be linked to a destination sheet.
Working with Inbound and Outbound Links
There are two types of cell links:
- An inbound link in a cell gets its value from a cell in another sheet.
A cell that contains an inbound link is the destination cell for that link, and the sheet containing the destination cell is the destination sheet. A destination cell can have only one inbound link. Destination cells are designated by a light blue arrow on the ride side of the cell.
- When a cell contains an outbound link, the value in that cell is updating a cell in another sheet.
A cell that contains an outbound link is the source cell for that link, and the sheet containing the source cell is the source sheet. A source cell can be linked to multiple destination cells. Source cells are designated by a grey arrow in the bottom-right corner of the cell.
To see the sheet name for an inbound or outbound link, select the linked cell:
To visit the sheet that a value is linked in from our out to, select the linked cell, hover the mouse over the text that appears, and click the link to the sheet:
To delete an inbound or outbound link, hover the mouse over the information that appears and click the delete link.
To create a cell link, you must have at least Viewer permission to the source sheet and Editor permission to the destination sheet.
- Open the destination sheet.
- Click on a cell and then click the Cell Linking icon in the left toolbar to display the cell linking form.
- Select the sheet that contains the source cell in the Select a Sheet section on the left side of the form.
TIP: Use the search bar if you need to search for the sheet.
- On the right side of the form, select the cell you want to reference and then click Create Link.
A link from the referenced cell is created, and a blue arrow appears on the right side of the destination cell.
- When you create an inbound link, an outbound link is created automatically in the source sheet.
- You can select multiple cells to create a link to each one.
- The linked cells in the destination sheet will appear in the same order as they do in the source sheet.
- Taking this action will overwrite any data currently contained in the destination cells.
- You can create links of up to 500 cells from the same source sheet at a time and can have a total of 5,000 inbound links in a destination sheet.
The sheet owner and collaborators with Editor or Admin access can edit or remove cell links.
You can edit an inbound link by double-clicking it and selecting new source cells from the Cell Linking form.
To remove an inbound link from a cell or group of cells:
- Click a cell (or click-and-drag to highlight a group of cells) that contains an inbound link.
- Right-click and select Remove Link.
Alternately, you can remove a links one at a time by selecting each cell and then clicking the delete link that appears (you'll need to mouse over the "Linked in to" message to see the delete link). Or, press [Backspace] after clicking on a cell (or a group of cells) with an inbound link to remove the link.
Outbound links must be removed one at a time. To remove an outbound link:
- From the sheet that contains the outbound link, select the source cell.
- Mouse over the linked cell to see the delete link.
- Click the delete link.
NOTE: Deleting sheet rows that include linked cells will impact the cell links. Deleting a row that includes a source cell will create a broken cell link in the destination sheet. Deleting a row with a linked destination cell will remove the link from the source sheet.
Using the Paste Special Feature to Create Links (Start from the Source Sheet)
Use Paste Special if you are starting in the source sheet or if you want to create links to the same source cell(s) in multiple destination sheets.
To create a link using the Paste Special feature:
- Open the source sheet and copy a cell or range of cells (using right-click or the keyboard shortcuts).
- Open the destination sheet, click on the cell where you want to create the links, then right-click (Mac users can use [Ctrl] + click) and select Paste Special to display the Paste Special form.
- Select the Link to copied cells option, and then click OK. Links to the copied cells are created starting with the selected cell.
NOTE: You can’t create links to cells in empty rows or to cells that were deleted after you copied them.
- If necessary, repeat steps 2-3 to create more links to the copied cells in other sheets.
Cell links can't be created in the Attachments or Discussions columns.
If you have dependencies enabled on a Project/Gantt sheet, you can’t create inbound links in the following types of cells on that sheet:
- Finish dates
- Parent rollups (start date, finish date, duration, % complete)
- Start dates with a dependency
However, you can create links in the duration and start date columns (if no predecessor exists for the row). The finish date will be calculated automatically, and you can add predecessors after creating the link.
Cells that have inbound links also can’t be edited in the following contexts:
- From a published sheet
- From an update request
- Via the Smartsheet mobile app
- Via the Smartsheet tablet app
- From a Report
- From the Edit form
For an instructional demonstration on using Cell Linking, please review the video walk-through below:
If you don't have access to YouTube, click here to watch the video.