Fixing Broken Formula Links in Excel 2007 - dummies

By Ken Bluttman, Peter G. Aitken

Formulas in Excel 2007 can reference external workbooks. Links become broken when external workbooks are moved, deleted, or renamed. When a workbook that contains an external reference is opened but cannot find the other workbook(s) referenced in one or more formulas, a warning message appears. Excel displays the following message when a link is broken.

Deciding what to do when formulas reference unfound external workbooks.
Deciding what to do when formulas reference unfound external workbooks.

You have two choices when this error message appears:

  • Click the Continue button. The cells that contain formulas that reference external workbooks present results calculated with the last known values found in the external workbooks from previous sessions.

  • Click the Edit Links button. This action displays the Edit Links dialog box. This dialog box offers a number of choices for handling the broken links.

    Using the Edit Links dialog box to correct external reference problems.
    Using the Edit Links dialog box to correct external reference problems.

The Edit Links dialog box gives you options on how to handle broken links. The buttons along the right side of the dialog box work like this:

  • Update Values: When external workbooks are where they should be, this action gets the values from the external workbooks, and the cells with those formulas are recalculated. When there are broken links, a dialog box appears from which you browse to a file that contains the values. This does not necessarily have to be the missing workbook — it could be another workbook. However, using Update Values in this manner does not fix the link. It helps you get values, but does not change the way formulas are written. Instead, use the Change Source option, listed next.

  • Change Source: This option displays a dialog box that lets you select an external workbook to use. Selecting a workbook in this dialog box actually alters the formula that references the external workbook. So this is the best course to take to permanently fix a broken link.

  • Open Source: In the case of broken links, this action does nothing because the source (the external workbook) cannot be found. An error message will confirm this. In the case of working links, this action opens the workbook referenced in the link.

  • Break Link: This action converts formulas that contain external links to the calculated values. In other words, the cells that contain formulas with external links are replaced with a value; the formulas are removed. Make sure this is what you want to do. You cannot undo this action, and it can be a serious mistake if you did this unintentionally.

  • Check Status: Provides status on links. A number of values are possible (such as OK, Unknown, Error: Source not found, Error: Worksheet not found, and so on). In the Edit Links dialog box, Status is a column in the middle of the dialog box. Each link receives its own status.