Microsoft Excel allows you to manipulate data in countless ways. One common task is summing up data across an Excel workbook (aka sum multiple tabs in Excel). This could come in handy if you're managing finances, tracking expenses, or analyzing sales figures, where the data is spread across multiple tabs (also called worksheets or sheets). Knowing how to consolidate this information efficiently is a game-changer!

How to Sum Multiple Tabs in Excel

When it comes to summing or adding data from different sheets in Excel, there are several different ways you can do this. The first thing you need to determine is whether you are adding data within the same cell reference across multiple tabs in Excel or different cell references across multiple tabs in Excel.

What is a Cell Reference?

A cell reference in Excel is essentially an address that identifies a specific cell within a worksheet. It tells Excel where to look for data or perform a calculation. Think of it as a unique code that points to a particular intersection of a row and a column in a spreadsheet.

For instance, in the reference “A1”, “A” represents the column and “1” represents the row. When you refer to cell “A1” in an Excel formula or function, you're telling Excel to use the data or perform an operation located in the first column and the first row of the spreadsheet.

If you're adding the data in “A1” across multiple tabs; that's adding across the same cell references. If you're adding data in “A1” in one tab and “B5” in another tab; that's adding across different cell references.

How to Sum Multiple Tabs in Excel – Same Cell Reference

Summing data across multiple tabs in Excel using the same cell reference is a nifty trick that streamlines your data analysis process. This technique is particularly useful when you want to aggregate a range of cells with similar data points from different worksheets into a single comprehensive view

Let´s set the stage for our example. You´re an Excel Freelancer (yup there is such a thing) and you have a spreadsheet to track your income. Each of the worksheet names represents the different types of income you earn. You have your freelance work, you sell Excel Templates, and you have a course where you teach Excel online. This is what your income looks like for each quarter.

Setting up our example – showing four (4) tabs with income earned

Remember to make a new tab and name it Summary (as shown in the example above) or destination worksheet to indicate it's a compilation of all or several worksheets. This will help you keep your data organized.

Manually Enter the SUM Formula

Select the cell where you want the total sum to appear on your summary sheet. In the example above let's start in the Summary tab and use cell B2. Then manually enter the following formula:



SUM Function across multiple tabs with same cell reference. Formula was manually typed.
SUM Function across multiple tabs with same cell reference. Formula was manually typed.

You'll notice in the above formula that I did not have to include ‘Templates' in the formula however it did include the amount from cell B2 in the Templates tab. That is because the formula will grab the B2 cell (in this case) from ALL tabs between the first and last tab entered into the formula.

If the Template tab was located to the right of the Course tab or the left of the Freelance tab – it wouldn't have been included in this formula as it's written.

PRO TIP: Don't forget the exclamation mark. This indicates to Excel that the information previous to the exclamation point refers to the name of the sheet (or tab).

Click and Select Method

In this method, you will manually click on each cell (B3) in each of the individual worksheets that you want to sum.

To start, type “=SUM(” in the formula bar.

Switch to the sheet (click in the tab) containing the data you want to sum. The first sheet in our example is Freelance.

Select the cell range you want to include in the sum. In this case, it is just cell B3. Click on B3 and type a comma (,).

Then click on the next tab (in this case Templates), select cell B3, and insert a comma (,). Repeat until you have selected all the data you want to add together.

Close the bracket and press Enter.

SUM Function across multiple tabs with the same cell reference. Cells were manually clicked on to add together.
SUM Function across multiple tabs with the same cell reference. Cells were manually clicked on to add together.

How to Sum Multiple Tabs in Excel – Different Cell Reference

Adding cells from different cell references means that while you may be adding cell B2 in one tab, and in a different tab you may want to add cell C2 and not B2.

Manually Enter the SUM Formula

Just like above, you can manually enter the formula, but you have to enter each tab manually, whereas in the same cell reference you could just type the first and last tab and the formula would include all tabs in between. That is not the case here.

Let's say in the Freelance tab you want to add B2, in the Template Tab you want B3, and in the Course tab you want B4. Your formula will look like this:


The results look exactly the same for the Click and Select Method below.

Click and Select Method

This is exactly the same as the same cell reference method. You will type “=SUM(” and manually go into each tab and click on the cell you want to add to the equation.

Print screen showing the SUM function for adding cells across multiple tabs, with different cell references.
Sum Multiple Tabs in Excel – using Different Cell Reference

This way is more likely to be used than the manual entry as you would need to have a list of sheet names and the cell references you wanted to add. It's just as easy, if not easier, to manually click on each tab and cell than typing all the information.

Remember if you misspell a worksheet name, it won't include that worksheet data and it also won't indicate you have an error.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Can I use cell references from different worksheets in a formula?

Absolutely! Excel is all about flexibility. You can use cell references from different worksheets to create dynamic formulas.

If you are adding the same cell references, then simply type =SUM(‘first:last’!cell). ‘First' is the name of the first worksheet with the data you want. ‘Last' is the name of the last worksheet with the data you want. The formula will include all tabs in between and only the cell indicated from each tab (for example cell B2).

If you are adding data that is a different cell reference, type “=SUM(” and click on each separate worksheet, while selecting the desired cells from each tab, and Excel will automatically insert the correct reference in your formula. Make sure to include a comma (,) after selecting each tab.

What if I want to sum data from multiple worksheets into a new worksheet?

Creating a totals worksheet is a breeze. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Insert a new worksheet in your workbook.
  2. Use one of the summing methods mentioned earlier to calculate the totals.
  3. Enjoy your freshly summarized data!

Is there a way to sum data from all worksheets, including any new ones I add in the future?

You bet! Remember from above in the manually entered SUM function for same cell references, that if your tab is in between the first and the last tab noted in the formula, that tab would also be included (with the same cell reference – we used B2 in our example).

In the future, if you add additional tabs that you'll want to be included in your summary formula, just ensure the tab is located between the two tabs from the formula – or as our example indicated, between the Freelance and Course tab. Just note that it will grab the same cell reference!

There is another way called the INDIRECT function; however, that will be a whole new blog post.

To SUM It Up

Knowing how to sum data from different sheets opens up a world of possibilities for your spreadsheet endeavours. Using the SUM formula, you can effortlessly consolidate information and gain valuable insights from your Excel data. So go ahead, put these techniques to use and watch your data come together like pieces of a puzzle! Happy summing!

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Hi! I'm Lindsay!

My nearly 20 years of experience working in various office settings have made me intimately familiar with the power and versatility of Microsoft Excel and I’m here to empower individuals who may not have had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with Excel through traditional means.

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