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Chapter 5. Troubleshooting Formulas > Understanding Auditing

Understanding Auditing

Excel's formula-auditing features operate by creating tracers—arrows that literally point out the cells involved in a formula. You can use tracers to find three kinds of cells:

  • Precedents— These are cells that are directly or indirectly referenced in a formula. For example, suppose that cell B4 contains the formula =B2; then B2 is a direct precedent of B4. Now suppose that cell B2 contains the formula =A2/2; this makes A2 a direct precedent of B2, but it's also an indirect precedent of cell B4.

  • Dependents— These are cells that are directly or indirectly referenced by a formula in another cell. In the preceding example, cell B2 is a direct dependent of A2, and B4 is an indirect dependent of A2.

  • Errors— These are cells that contain an error value and are directly or indirectly referenced in a formula (and, therefore, cause the same error to appear in the formula).


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