MS-Excel / Excel 2003

Tracing Formula Precedents

You use the Trace Precedents button on the Formula Auditing toolbar to trace all the generations of cells that contribute to the formula in the selected cell (something like tracing all the ancestors in your family tree). Many times, finding the original source of the formula leads you right to the source of all the error values in your spreadsheet.

You can use the Trace Precedents button to quickly locate the cells that contribute, directly and indirectly.

To speed up the process and display both the direct and indirect precedents in one operation, double-click the Trace Precedents button.

To find out exactly which workbook, worksheet, and cell(s) hold the direct precedents of cell, you double-click somewhere on the dotted arrow. (Clicking the icon with the worksheet miniature doesn't do a thing.). Double-clicking the dotted tracer arrow opens the Go To dialog box, which shows a list of all the precedents (including the workbook, worksheet, and cell references). To go to a precedent on another worksheet, double-click the reference in the Go To list box, or select it and click OK. (If the worksheet is in another workbook, this workbook file must already be open before you can go to it.)

To display all the direct or indirect precedents or the direct or indirect dependents that are on the same sheet as the formula, click the Special button in the Go To dialog box. Then in the Go To Special dialog box that appears, select either the Precedents or Dependents option button and click either the Direct Only or All Levels option button.

To clear the tracer arrows a generation at a time, click the Remove Precedent Arrows button on the Formula Auditing toolbar. To remove all tracer arrows at once, double-click this button.

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