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Advanced Excel Formula Auditing

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4/7/2017

Microsoft Excel has a lot of features. It has a variety of powerful tools that allow checking what is happening in
your spreadsheet. Today we will discuss on Advanced Excel formula. It helps you to get the relations between
formula and your cells. Which cells are using the information in the cell and from which cell the information
comes from in the cell? Even this will help you to trace error if there are Errors in your Formula.

Contents [hide]

1 Lets go through examples one by one for Advanced Excel formula auditing:

1.1 Trace Precedents Formula Auditing:


1.2 Trace Dependents Excel Formula:

1.2.1 Another example of Trace dependents:

1.3 Show All Formula Excel Formula Auditing:


1.4 Error checking Formula Auditing:
1.5 Remove Arrows Formula Auditing:
1.6 Circular reference Formula Auditing:

Lets go through examples one by one for Advanced Excel formula auditing:
Assume you have a sheet containing lots of formula and you are not sure how the formula is linked up. In my
case, I have the financial projection table for ABC Pvt Ltd Company.

Now I have created a formula to get the Sales growth of 31-Mar-11 which I got 7.1% and it is coming from
Current Year Sales (which is 1,050) minus previous Year Sales (which is 980) and the result is divided by
previous year sales (which is 980). And I am getting the result as 7.1%. So my sales growth in 2011 is 7.1%.

1. Trace Precedents Formula Auditing:

It will help you to show the arrows that indicate which cells affect the value of the currently selected cell.

Now I select F5 cell which is showing as 7.1%. Then I go to Formula Tab and then in the auditing section,
I click on trace precedents (Shortcut Key Alt + M+P).

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As soon as I click on Trace Precedents it will show you the arrows pointing to my F5 cell. It means if I
change the value of these two cells it will affect the value of F5 cell which is currently showing as 7.1%

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2. Trace Dependents Excel Formula:

It is just the opposite of Trace Precedents. Let say we have the same table like above
picture. Now you want to know the dependent cell of cell E9 which is 980. That means if I
change the value of this cell (E11) which are the cells are going to affect. In excel you can
see this by clicking on Trace dependents. To apply the same you need to
go Formulas Auditing Trace Dependents ((Shortcut Key Alt + M+D).

As you click on the cell you will see that from your cell E9, 3 arrows are pointed towards
3 cells. And these 3 cells are F7, E9 and E13. It showing the arrows to all the cells which
are connected with this cell E11. And if I change the value of this cell E11 then all the cells
which are connected with this cells will be changed.

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It is clear from the above picture that my E11 cell (which is 980) is connected with 3 other
cells and currently showing the value as 79.6%, 7.1% and 200.0. Now if I change the value
of my E11 cell then all the values will be changes.

So before changing any value in your sheet just ensure applying Trace dependents. It
will tell you that if you change the value of your selected cells then what are the other cells
are going to change.

Another example of Trace dependents:

Lets look at a very simple example. In you, cell B2 just type 10. And cell D5 just write
=$B$2*row (). It will give you the result 50 as the value of B2 is 10 and row () means your
currently active cell no which is 5. So 10*5 and it will give you the result 50. And drag it
down up to D12. You will get the result like 50, 60,70 .up to 120. You have dragged down
up to 12 no. row so last value will be 120. Then you go to you B2 cell and then go to
Formula tab and apply Trace Dependents. It will show like below picture.

From the above picture you can


understand that if you change the
value of B2 cell all the other cells
connected to B2 will also be changed.
So before changing any value in your
spreadsheet make sure that which of
the cells value are also be changing.
To check the same you can apply
Trace Dependents.

3. Show All Formula Excel


Formula Auditing:

There are a lot of formulas applied to


your sheet. You want to see all the
formulas at a time. To get all the
formulas at a time you need to go
Formulas tab and then click on Show
all formulas. You can also apply the
shortcut key Ctrl +` (the sign beside
1).

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As you click on Show all formulas it will show you all the formulas in your sheet and if there
is any date in your sheet it will show as a number as you know that each and every date is
a number to Excel.

Again clicking on the show all formulas tab will help you to get back to your original look. So
remember if you want to see all the formulas in your sheet please click on show all
formulas tab.

Go to file and then click on Options


Then go to Formulas Tab
Check the box named as Enabled Background Error Checking.

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If there is an error in your formula excel will prompt you for correction. You may click
on yes following the rules of Excel or you may click on No for editing the formula
in the formula bar.

Error checking Formula Auditing:

The first check is error checking is enabled in your excel file or not. By default, it is
enabled. If it is not enabled in your file follow the below steps to enable Error
checking in excel:

4.

In the above formula, I am trying to get some value and then dividing it by Zero. And you
will see the error #DIV/0! And we all know that this is not possible.

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Now, whenever there is an error in your formula and you are not sure about this then
you can apply error checking. And to do the same you need to go to Formulas tab and
then click on Error Checking.

As soon as you click on Error checking you will get a box which will guide you what to do
next. If you want to see the calculation steps then please click on show calculation steps
and then Evaluate.

You can also go to trace Error to check which cells are linked with the cell where you have
got the error. To do the same you need to go to Trace Error under Formulas tab.

As you click on the trace error tab it shows which cells are linked and then if you are
references are wrong you can edit the formula from formula bar with correct reference.

In my example I am trying to do a vlook up when my table array is blank. Surely I will get
#N/A in my result as my lookup table is empty. I have checked the formula with trace error
and now I can change the reference to get the appropriate result.

5. Remove Arrows Formula Auditing:

If you want to remove arrow for the above the picture you need to go to Formulas tab
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and then click on remove arrows. Remember undo (Ctrl +Z) will not work here. To remove
arrows you need to click on remove Arrows icon. It will help you to remove all the arrows
drawn trace precedents and trace dependents.

6. Circular reference Formula Auditing:

You have entered a formula in excel and it is not working. Instead, you are getting an error
on Circular Reference. I have seen a lot of people facing this problem as the formula
he/she has entered into the cell is calculating its own cell. For example, I have a series of a
number from E1 to E5. Now I want a result which will give me the sum of range (E1 to E5)
and then again add the total value.

In E6 cell I am writing the formula =sum(E1: E5)+E6

After entering the formula as soon as I will press enter I will get circular reference error. As
because the formula =sum(E1: E5)+E6 breaks as it lives in cell E6 and it is calculating
itself.

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To remove from this you can move the formula in another cell. Dont be scared of circular
reference. Let me tell you Its a sword which you need to handle with care

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You can learn some excel formulas by watching this video:

READ MORE: Excel basics guide for beginners: Learn Excel Online

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