A Word of Caution

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN


A red flag went up when CPA Henry G. Barcomb Jr., audit manager at Schunk, Wilson & Co., Amherst, N.Y., read this sentence in the Technology Workshop article “Links in a Blink,JofA, Nov. 06, page 68: ‘‘[O]nce you invest the time to create a (link) connection, you never have to do it again: It functions instantly for the life of the file without further prompting.” While the statement is true, he acknowledges, he added this caution: Spreadsheet linking, while powerful, can cause problems if not done properly. For instance, if you insert or delete columns or rows in a source file without first opening the dependent files, your links are no longer valid. The link is not removed per se, it just no longer links to the original data in the source file. This can produce errors in the dependent files.

The solution: Create separate link sheets that reference cells in the source sheets. Barcomb also suggests including descriptions of which sheets and cells are being referenced in the source file and which are being linked in the dependent files. So when data in a source sheet is changed, the cell references on the link sheet automatically change as well, but the link from the dependent file to the link sheet remains unchanged. The descriptions quickly identify which files are dependent on the data in this source file.

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