What is Formula Auditing in Excel

In this article you will learn everything about formula auditing. It is especially about Trace Precedents and Trace Dependences which can help you to understand what is going on in the worksheet.

Formula Auditing is a feature in Excel that allows users to check and evaluate the formulas in their spreadsheets to ensure accuracy and troubleshoot errors. It helps users to understand how formulas are working and identify any mistakes in the calculation process.

In the Formulas tab you can see a section called Formula Auditing. They include:

  1. Trace Precedents: This tool allows users to identify all the cells that contribute to a formula in a particular cell.
  2. Trace Dependents: This tool allows users to identify all the cells that are affected by a particular cell.
  3. Evaluate Formula: This tool allows users to see how Excel is calculating a particular formula step-by-step.
  4. Error Checking: This tool checks the entire workbook for any errors and provides suggestions to correct them.
  5. Watch Window: This tool allows users to monitor the value of a specific cell or formula while working on a different sheet or workbook.

By using these Formula Auditing tools, users can easily identify and fix errors in their spreadsheets, ensuring accurate calculations and reducing the risk of mistakes in important data analysis.

Formula auditing ribbon

Trace Precedents – Which cells are contributing to this formula?

Commands contained there in provide an analysis of the formulas from your workbook. For example, in a situation when you are in a cell that contains a specific formula, and you want to check the cell to which it refers. Then you can use the Trace Precedents command. This will display the arrows from all the cells that are used in the formula to cells analyzed.

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Excel tells us, from which the data depends on our formula by selecting the color cell source. Below cell C2 is directly dependent on B2 and C12.

Formula auditing Trace Precedents

Using the same function again, Excel puts another arrow until the all the cells with formulas that have an influence on our cell, will be referred to their predecessors.

Using Trace Precedents can help you understand the structure of your spreadsheet and identify any potential errors or issues with your formulas. It’s a powerful tool for debugging and troubleshooting complex worksheets.

Tracking dependencies – which formulas use this cell?

The dependency tracking shows that cells depend indicated, the opposite of tracking predecessors. To do it use the Trace Dependents button.

The following example shows how the cells change, if you change the value in cell B2.

Formula auditing Trace Dependents

Using Trace Dependents can help you understand the impact of a change in a cell on other cells in your spreadsheet. It’s a powerful tool for identifying potential issues or unintended consequences of your calculations.

Remove Arrows

You can remove arrows clicking Remove Arrows button.

Show formulas

This button will show formulas in cells instead of results of formulas.

Formula auditing show formulas