Dynamic Hyperlinks in Excel

You can create dynamic hyperlinks in Excel that act like HTML forms without having to know much at all about HTML. These hyperlinks can come in handy when using Excel as an interface to the Internet or to an internal Web.

As an example, let’s create a Google search form. First, drop by Google.com and do a search for the keyword “Excel.” Then, take a look at the URL in your browser’s address bar. It may look something like this:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Excel&lr=lang_en

Of course, what you see in the address bar could be even longer, depending on what server you end up accessing at Google:

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=Excel&cp=4
&pf=p&sclient=psy&site=&source=hp&aq=0&aqi=&aql=&oq=Exce&pbx=1
&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=e28a97840bb57e9&biw=1311&bih=692

Regardless of the format shown in the address bar, if you study what you see, you’ll start to recognize patterns. The parameters following either the question mark (?) or the hash mark (#) are the name-value pairs submitted by the HTML form. But, you don’t need to know a whole lot about that. In this case, the main thing to consider is the search term, where “q” is the name of the parameter and “Excel” is the value.

Using the HYPERLINK function along with the CONCATENATE function (or just the ampersand, &), you can easily assemble a link and create a dynamic form using cells as fields. Just follow these two quick steps:

  1. In cell B3 enter the keyword “Excel Web Queries.”
  2. In cell B4, enter the following formula:
=HYPERLINK("http://www.google.com/search?q="&B3&"&safe=active","Search Google")

Now you have your own simple HTML form inside of Excel. You can create much longer hyperlinks and include multiple cell references, but there is a limit in Excel to how long the hyperlink can be (about 248 characters). To use the form, just enter your keywords into cell B3 and click on the hyperlink in cell B4. That’s it!

Creating a form to access Google is just a simplistic example. The interesting applications are when you can assemble hyperlinks from the results of calculations, string manipulation, IF statements, combo boxes, or the other form fields available in Excel.