Excel 3D Reference (A Simple and Quick Guide to Understand)

Last Updated: November 29, 2023

- Written by Puneet

We all want to save time. And, using 3D Reference in Excel can save a lot of time.

It is like a three-dimensional chart or image with more than one phase. A normal range is all about a group of cells from a single worksheet.

For Example, in =SUM(Sheet1!A1:A10), “A1:A10” is a group of cells that is referred from Sheet1.

But, a 3D reference is a range of cells in which you can refer to the same cells from multiple worksheets using a single reference. In simple words, refer to the same cell or range from multiple sheets.

Create a 3D Reference

The only thing which you have to take care of before using a 3D reference is all the worksheets should be in a sequence. Let me show you an example.

Add Worksheets To Use Excel 3D Range

Now here you have 5 worksheets in a workbook. So, if you want to calculate a sum of the range C5:D6 from all 5 worksheets you have to use a formula like the one below.


But if you want to create a 3D formula with a 3D reference then it will be something like this.


How 3D Reference Works in Excel

A 3D range formula always works in two different parts.

How Excel 3D Range Works
  • First: a range of worksheets: Like a range of cells, you have to create a range of worksheets from which you want to refer cells. The range of worksheets must be continuous range. In the above example, I have 5 worksheets from 2009 to 2013.
  • Second: A range of cells. A normal range of cells that you want to refer to in all the worksheets.

Adding a New Worksheet

Suppose you insert a worksheet between 2009 to 2013. It will automatically include the value of the range A1:A10 from the new sheet in the function you are using.

more information about adding new worksheets in 3d range

Deleting a Worksheet:

If you delete a worksheet from 2009 to 2013. It will automatically exclude the value of cell C4 from the function you are using.

The Sequence of Worksheets:

Here in this example, the range of worksheets starts from “Sheet 2009” and ends at “Sheet 2013”. The point is, if you move any sheet out of this range, that sheet will exclude from the formula calculation.


One of the most important benefits of 3D references is that they can shorten your complex formulas. You don’t have to refer to all the worksheets separately in formulas. And, I hope this method will help you write better formulas.

Now tell me one thing. Have you tried it before? Please share your views with me in the comment section, I’d love to hear from you. And, please don’t forget to share with your friends.

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14 thoughts on “Excel 3D Reference (A Simple and Quick Guide to Understand)”

  1. Thanks Puneet, apart from ease of function the 3D format saves a lot of keying. I agree with your point of identical layout for each Worksheet.

  2. You’ve really been a blessing. Each time I get a mail from you, I’m one step better than the previous experience.
    I’m learning new things everyday.

  3. I always put in a blank worksheet called start and finish (or whatever you prefer) so my formula looks like:

    This has the advantage that if i want to insert the spreadsheet for 2008 or add 2014 sequentially, I don’t have to change the formulae. Similarly, If they are not named numerically, I can change the order to help people read it without fear of missing a sheet.

  4. I actually stumbled upon this. While I was working in my spreadsheet, I tried it and it worked! I hadn’t known it was even possible. Very handy!

  5. Hello dji phantom 3,

    Thank you. Please subscribe to our newsletter to get all the awesome excel tips & tricks in your mailbox. Also, get your free excel shortcut copy.


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