Cell Linking


  • Smartsheet


Who can use this capability?

The sheet owner and collaborators with Editor or Admin access can edit or remove cell links.

Cell linking makes it easy to combine and share real-time information across sheets. You can pull specific values from one or many source sheets into a read-only format in a summary sheet. When information is updated in the source sheets, the summary sheet is automatically updated. 

Whether you are rolling up departmental budgets, partner sales forecasts, annual headcount, operational plans, or client project summary dates, Smartsheet does the work for you. No more copy and paste! 

Follow the step-by-step instructions on how to create a cell link.

Cell links: consolidate or maintain data consistency


  • Smartsheet


Who can use this capability?

The sheet owner and collaborators with Editor or Admin access can edit or remove cell links.

You can only link cells that contain data, or previously contained data, to a destination sheet. It's not possible to link entire sheets, columns, or rows. Cells can't contain both a hyperlink and a cell link.

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 right side of the cell.
  • When a cell contains an outbound link, the value in that cell updates 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 a value is linked in from or out to, select the linked cell, hover the mouse over the text that appears, and select the link to the sheet.

To delete an inbound or outbound link, hover the mouse over the information that appears and select delete. 

Create an inbound cell link

To create a cell link, you must have at least Viewer permission to the source sheet and Editor permission to the destination sheet.

  1. Open the destination sheet.
  2. Select a cell, then select Cell Linking in the toolbar to display the cell linking form.
  3. Select the sheet that contains the source cell in the Select a Sheet section on the left side of the form.

    Use the search bar if you need to search for the sheet.

  4. On the right side of the form, select the cell you want to reference and then select Create Link.
    A link from the referenced cell is created, and a blue arrow appears on the right side of the destination cell.

Tips for effectively working with cell links

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 appear in the same order as they do in the source sheet.
  • Taking this action overwrites 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 500,000 inbound links in a destination sheet. 

Cells containing cell links don't trigger actions that change the sheet automatically. This includes formulas that refer to another cell with an inbound cell link.

Edit or remove links

Inbound 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:

  1. Select a cell (or click and drag to highlight a group of cells) that contains an inbound link.
  2. Right-click and select Remove Link.

    Alternatively, you can remove links one at a time by selecting each cell and then clicking the delete link that appears (you need to mouse over the Link in from or Link out 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 links.

Outbound links

You must remove outbound links one at a time. To remove an outbound link:

  1. From the sheet that contains the outbound link, select the source cell.
  2. Mouse over the linked cell to see the delete link.
  3. Select the delete link.

Deleting sheet rows that include linked cells impacts the cell links. Deleting a row that includes a source cell creates a broken cell link in the destination sheet. Deleting a row with a linked destination cell removes the link from the source sheet.

Use the paste special feature to create links 

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:

  1. Open the source sheet and copy a cell or range of cells (using right-click or the keyboard shortcuts).
  2. In the same browser tab, open the destination sheet, select the cell where you want to create the links.
  3. Right-click (Mac users can use [Ctrl] + click) and select Paste Special to display the Paste Special form.
  4. Select the Link to copied cells option, then select OK. Links to the copied cells are created starting with the selected cell.

    You can’t create links to cells in empty rows or to cells that were deleted after you copied them. 

  5. If necessary, repeat steps 2-3 to create more links to the copied cells in other sheets.

Cell types that don’t allow links

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:

  • Cell with a column formula
  • Finish dates
  • Predecessors
  • 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 calculates 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
  • From the Smartsheet mobile app
  • From the Smartsheet tablet app
  • From a Report
  • From the Edit form