Trace Precedents and Dependents in Excel

Excel offers us some useful tools for auditing a formula, in order to understand what we have done wrong in the formula, by tracking down the relationships between the cells of the formula in a spreadsheet. By tracking the cells we will be able to locate the Precedents cells and the Dependents cells.

What are Precedents and Dependents though?

Precedents are cells or ranges of cells that affect the active cells value.

Dependents are cells or ranges of cells that are affective by the active cell.

In formulas that we create in Excel, they may contain precedents, and maybe they are dependents on other formulas.

In order to locate the Precedents and Dependents in Excel we must do the following:

First of all we must select the cell that we want to trace the Precedents or the Dependents. Then we select the Formulas tab and then from the area of the ribbon named Formula Auditing we select either Trace Precedents or Trace Dependents as we can see in the image below.

01

In the image below I have selected the J10 cell (which contains a formula) and then clicked on the Trace Precedents button once. Straight away the blue arrows appear showing what cells affect the value of the currently selected cell.

01a

In the image below I have clicked on the Trace Precedents button once more, and more blue arrows appear showing us which cells affect the value of the primary precedents cells.

02

In the image below I have selected the cells C9, D9, E9, F9, G9 one by one and each time I selected one cell I also activated the Trace Dependents button. Once finished the blue arrows indicate what cells are affected by the value of the currently selected cells.

03

If we double click on a blue arrow, that will activate the cell on one end of the line, and if we double click it again it will activate the cell on the other end.

Once we have finished with Tracing the Precedents and Dependents we can select the command Remove Arrows and from the drop down menu we can select either to:

  • Remove Arrows
  • Remove Precedent Arrows
  • Remove Dependent Arrows

04

By using the Trace Precedents and Trace Dependents commands we will be able to understand our formula much better and if anything is wrong with it we will be able to locate the error also.

Below you can check out the video in order to understand how to use the Trace Precedents and Trace Dependents functions in Excel.

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Posted on June 18, 2012, in Excel 2010 English, Microsoft Office 2010 English and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Trace Precedents and Dependents in Excel.

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