Summarize Multiple Excel Worksheets Using 3D References in Formulas
by Avantix Learning Team | Updated January 24, 2021
Applies to: Microsoft® Excel® 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows)
You can use 3D references in Excel formulas to summarize multiple worksheets that are structured in the same way. A 3D reference refers to the same cell or range of cells on multiple worksheets.
Recommended article: How to Enter Data in an Excel Filtered List into Visible Cells (2 Ways)
Do you want to learn more about Excel? Check out our virtual classroom or live classroom Excel courses >
Working with 3D references
Since a 3D reference refers to the same cell or range of cells on multiple worksheets, it references the cell or range of cells and also a range of worksheet names.
All of the worksheets you wish to reference must be set up the same way and use the same data types.
For example, if you want to create a total for product sales and extract data from January, February, March and April worksheets where the total is in cell B6 on all sheets, you could create the following formula:
However, if you have 12 sheets for the year or even more sheets, you could end up with a fairly long formula.
As an alternative, you could use a 3D reference with the SUM function to total all of the sheets as in the following formula:
You can also use ranges of cells as in the following 3D formula:
Syntax for 3D formulas
The syntax for a 3D formula is:
When you are using 3D formulas in Excel, all worksheets between the first worksheet and the last worksheet are included in the formula.
Creating formulas with 3D references
To create a formula with a 3D reference:
- Click the cell where you want to enter a 3D formula (such as a cell on a summary worksheet).
- Type an equal sign (=), enter the function’s name (such as SUM) and then type an open round bracket.
- Click the tab of the first worksheet that you want to include in the 3D reference.
- Press Shift and click the tab of the last worksheet that you want to include in the 3D reference.
- On the first worksheet, click the cell or drag over the range of cells that you want to include in the formula. The cell or cells must be in the same location on all sheets.
- Enter the remainder of the formula as required and a closed round bracket.
- Press Enter to complete the 3D formula. For example, =SUM(January:April!B6).
How 3D references update when you insert, move or delete worksheets
Because each 3D reference in Excel is defined by the starting and ending worksheet (the 3D reference end points), changing the end points changes the reference which then changes your 3D formula.
If you insert, copy or move worksheets between the starting and ending worksheet, the referenced range in all newly added sheets will be included in the 3D formula.
When you move any of the worksheets outside of the endpoints, these worksheets will be excluded from your 3D formula. If you move the ending worksheet to the start, or the starting worksheet to the end, the sheets will also be excluded.
If you restore the original order of the starting or ending worksheet, this will not restore the original 3D reference. You should recreate the formula.
When you delete the starting or ending worksheet, it is removed from the 3D reference and the deleted endpoint changes. If the first sheet is deleted, the end point changes to the sheet that follows it. If the last sheet is deleted, the end point changes to the preceding sheet.
Excel functions that allow 3D references
You can use 3D references with the following Excel functions:
STDEV, STDEVA, STDEVP and STDEVPA
VAR, VARA, VARP and VARPA
Formulas with 3D references are a great way to summarize the same cells or ranges from multiple sheets.
This article was first published on March 2, 2019 and has been updated for clarity and content.
Did you find this article helpful? If you would like to receive new articles, join our email list.
Our instructor-led courses are delivered in virtual classroom format or at our downtown Toronto location at 1 Yonge Street, Suite 1801 (Toronto Star Building), Toronto, Ontario, Canada (some live classroom courses may also be delivered at an alternate downtown Toronto location). Contact us at email@example.com if you'd like to arrange custom training on a date that's convenient for you.
Copyright 2021 Avantix® Learning
You may also like
You can quickly fill blank cells in a range of data in Excel with dashes, zeros or other number or text values. Blank cells can be problematic if you want to use a data set as the source for a pivot table.
You can convert cm to inches (or inches to cm) using formulas with operators or functions in Excel. This is useful since the regional settings on a computer affect the default measurement system used in Excel and other programs.
You can hide comments and notes in Excel workbooks. In addition to adding comments in Excel, there is a little known function called the N function that you can use to enter notes directly within a formula. The N function has been around for a long time so you can use it in older versions of Excel.
Microsoft, the Microsoft logo, Microsoft Office and related Microsoft applications and logos are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in Canada, US and other countries. All other trademarks are the property of the registered owners.
Avantix Learning | 1 Yonge Street, Suite 1801 (Toronto Star Building), Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5E 1W7 | firstname.lastname@example.org