It is quite common to encounter different errors and issues while working on your Excel workbook. One such annoying error is “Microsoft Excel Reference isn’t valid“. (Here is the real interface of this error).
When this error message occurs, it simply means that the cell reference or range you are using in a formula is invalid or incorrect. However, it is difficult to fix it, if you don’t have an accurate solution.
Though, in this comprehensive guide, I will discuss all the possible ways to fix the Microsoft Excel says reference isn’t valid error along with the major factors.
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- Restart Excel
- Check if Excel File is Saved in the Local Storage
- Check if the File Name Contains Special Characters or Square Brackets
- Exit Design Mode
- Remove Hyperlinks
- Change the Pivot Table Named Range
- Use Excel Repair & Recovery Tool
Why Does Microsoft Excel Say Reference Isn’t Valid?
There are multiple reasons behind triggering this error message. But here I have shortlisted the major factors. So, let’s have a look:
- When Excel File is not on your Local Drive
- If the file name contains square brackets like “[‘or’]” then also you can receive a reference isn’t valid error.
- When data reference has been renamed, moved, or deleted.
- Due to incorrect cell references
- The pivot table is in non-existent range.
Methods To Fix Microsoft Excel Reference Isn’t Valid Error
Let’s follow the below troubleshooting methods to fix this error.
Fix 1- Restart Excel
It might be possible that there may be a temporary bug in the Excel triggering this error. You can fix it by opening the Excel again.
Restarting Excel can often clear the temporary glitches & resolve minor errors. Nevertheless, if the reference is not valid error persists after restarting the Excel, then you can explore other troubleshooting methods mentioned below.
Fix 2- Check if Excel File is Saved in the Local Storage
If you want to make changes to your Excel sheet, then you need full access. However, if you can’t modify worksheet data or use any tools on your sheet, it might be possible that the Excel file isn’t locally saved on your PC.
Therefore, ensure to save your XLSX/XLS file on a local storage so that you can easily access or edit your sheet.
Fix 3- Check if the File Name Contains Special Characters or Square Brackets
Many users have reported in the forums & community websites that they received Microsoft Excel reference isn’t valid when their file name contains special characters. Even though they said that they fixed this problem by removing the special characters from the file name.
Sometimes, this error also causes if the file name is enclosed in the square brackets. Since you are getting this error so, it is recommended to rename your Excel file.
Here’s how you can do so:
Step 1- Firstly, open the File Explorer in order to locate the document.
Step 2- Find & double-click on the Excel file that is showing the reference isn’t valid.
Step 3- Edit the file name means simply erase the special characters & squared brackets from a file name >> hit Enter.
Fix 4- Exit Design Mode to Fix Microsoft Excel Reference Isn’t Valid
Most of the time, Microsoft Excel says reference isn’t valid error while creating the text box from a Developer tab. When this error occurs, all the ribbon stuff gets greyed out and you can’t open a File tab.
In such a situation, you must exit from the Design mode so that you can enter data into the box.
To exit Design Mode, follow these steps:
- Open the Excel workbook.
- Click on the “Developer” tab in the Excel ribbon & select “Customize the Ribbon.” Instead, you can right-click on the Excel ribbon to see the Customize the Ribbon option)
- Under the “Customize the Ribbon” window, check the box next to “Developer” in the right-hand column & click “OK.”
- Once the Developer tab is visible, click on it.
- In the Controls group, you’ll find a button called “Design Mode.” Click on it to exit design mode.
- The design mode will be deactivated, and you can now relate to your Excel workbook as usual.
Fix 5- Remove Hyperlinks
Well, you can even encounter the reference isn’t valid error due to broken hyperlinks in the Excel file. You can troubleshoot this problem by eliminating the problematic links from your Excel worksheet.
In case, if you don’t know which link is triggering this error, then you should remove all the existing hyperlinks.
Follow the below steps to do so:
Step 1- Open your Excel Worksheet.
Step 2- Locate the hyperlink there, and then right-tap on it.
Step 3- Select the Remove hyperlink.
Fix 6- Change the Pivot Table Named Range
When generating a Pivot Table, you will need to enter a cell or named range which exists in a grid. But in the meanwhile, if you enter an invalid named range then you can meet this error message.
So, it is important to check your named range before you generate a Pivot Table.
Now, let’s follow the below instructions carefully to change the pivot table named range:
Step 1- Open your Excel worksheet.
Step 2- Then, go to the Insert tab and click on PivotTable.
Step 3- After this, enter the valid named range in the section of Table/Range.
Fix 7- Recommended: Use Excel Repair & Recovery Tool
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Why Does Excel Keep Say Data Source Reference Is Not Valid?
It might possible that your Excel file name contained square brackets or some invalid characters due to which the Excel keep say data source reference is not valid.
How Do I Fix Excel When It Says the Reference Isn't Valid?
You can fix Excel when it says the reference isn’t valid by renaming the file name or updating the cell references.
How Do I Fix a Circular Reference Error in Excel?
In order to fix a circular reference error in Excel, you can run error checking tool in the Excel ribbon, use status bar, or apply iterative calculation.
How to Remove Excel Found a Problem with One Or More Formula References in This Worksheet?
To remove Excel found a problem with one or more formula references in this worksheet, you have to:
- Check Links
- Review Charts
- Check Individual Sheet
- Check Formulas
To Sum Up
So, these are the most effective methods using which you can easily troubleshoot Microsoft Excel reference isn’t valid error.
In case, if the manual methods fail to work, then it is recommended to opt for Excel Repair Tool. This utility can repair XLS/XLSX files along with fixing other Excel issues in the most inclusive manner.