Microsoft Office Tutorials and References
In Depth Information
Tracing cell references
INSIDE OUT Understanding precedents and dependents
The terms precedent and dependent crop up quite often in this section. They refer to
the relationships that cells containing formulas create with other cells. A lot of what a
worksheet is all about is wrapped up in these concepts, so here’s a brief description of
● Precedents are cells whose values are used by the formula in the selected cell. A
cell that has precedents always contains a formula.
● Dependents are cells that use the value in the selected cell. A cell that has
dependents can contain either a formula or a constant value.
For example, if the formula =SUM(A1:A5) is in cell A6, cell A6 has precedents (A1:A5)
but no apparent dependents. Cell A1 has a dependent (A6) but no apparent
precedents. A cell can be both a precedent and a dependent if the cell contains a formula
and is also referenced by another formula.
Tracing dependent cells
In the worksheet in Figure 8-64, we selected cell B2, which contains an hourly rate value.
To find out which cells contain formulas that use this value, click the Trace Dependents
button on the Formulas tab. Although this worksheet is elementary to make it easier to
illustrate cell tracers, consider the ramifications of using cell tracers in a large and complex
Figure 8-64 When you trace dependents, arrows point to formulas that directly refer to the
You’ll find the Audit.xlsx file with the other examples on the companion website.