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Here is a worksheet that's a bit of a mess, and it's your responsibility to make this worksheet work for you. It's got some vital information in it. Maybe you are relatively new with it. You are trying to figure out what's going on. One bit of information that's really helpful is to figure out which cells depend upon others, and that can be a very tedious task if you approach it manually. Maybe you've scoped out this worksheet a bit and you more or less figured out that cell B3 is pretty important. One of the things you would like to find out is which cells depend upon this value.
For example, if we go to cell B7. We can look in the formula bar or double- click and see that there is a reference to B3. So, we know that if we change B3, B7 probably will change as well. It depends upon the nature of the formula too. But if B3 changes, B7 will change. So, maybe we write that down and we start to go to another cell, and then this maybe scary thought occurs to us. If B7 changes then we now have to consider other formula somewhere that might refer back to B7. Here is a formula refers to B7. So this depends on B3 as well.
It's going to take us a long time to figure out which cells might change if B3 changes. We'd like to trace the dependence of this cell, and we want to do it painlessly. There are two ways to do this. One is the keystroke shortcut, and then another is a built-in command that's easy to get to. Here's the cell in question. Let's quickly highlight all the other cells in this worksheet that depend upon this cell. Simply, press Ctrl+Shift+Right Bracket and all the other highlighted cells, and we can scroll up and down and see them, they are highlighted for the moment, are dependencies of cell B3.
Some of them have formulas that have references to other cells as well. So, you can't make the case for saying these cells depend only on B3, but they do have a dependency on B3. If it's really important to you, you might immediately apply a color to them. Maybe go back to the Home tab, click this button right here, and add a background color or something. That's certainly something you could do. But if you want to start tracing the dependencies of other cells, you are probably going to have some confusion here, but that's certainly one technique.
Another technique, much more obvious, not exactly a shortcut but pretty fast to get there is to go to the Formulas tab and here is a choice that says Trace Dependents. Now, when you click this you might say "Well, yeah, but that didn't highlight all the cells, did it?" No, it takes those cells that immediately refer to B3. Keep clicking this button, there we go, and then click it again and again and again and again until you either hear a beep or you stop seeing the appearance of new arrows and buttons.
Now, this is much more dramatic than the previous approach. We can say that every cell that has a blue dot or an arrow in it does have a formula that in one way or another traces a dependency back to cell B3. We might jokingly say here to print this to show that you've been busy. If you are going to start trying to check the dependencies of other cells, the best approach here probably is either after you've printed it or copied it somehow, then remove the arrows before proceeding with checking another cell's dependencies.
But there is no question that this is an auditing tool that's really helpful. I don't envy anybody who has to do auditing, but this gets the job done pretty quickly. Again, Trace Dependents or press Ctrl+ Shift+Right Bracket. One other aspect to this too. In the current situation, there are no formulas here that refer to any of these cells in another worksheet. But I am going to remove the arrows here and set this up on purpose. Suppose there is another cell in a different worksheet that has a dependency on one of these cells that maybe as dependent upon B3.
So, I am going to go to another worksheet. This worksheet right here, click on this cell, and type =, then go down to the worksheet that we just came from, the Formulas tab, click it, and click on this cell and press Enter. So, here is a formula here that gets data from that other sheet. Now, I want to go back to the other sheet, click this cell again, trace its dependents, click, click and what do we see here.
A dotted line with this grid looking icon here that refers to another sheet. If you see this what you will do is double-click the dotted line and you'll see the reference to the other sheet. Now, it could be also to another workbook if you have a formula in another workbook that refers to these cells. If we double-click this right here or click it then click OK, it will take us to that particular reference. So, you can see how powerful this is and how valuable it is in some situations. It won't go a second level.
If that other cell in the other worksheet has a formula that works off a bit, we won't see that and initially unless we go check that cell's dependents. Here, too when we finally either printed this or taken stock of what's going on here, we'll simply remove the arrows. So, tracing dependents by either pressing the keystroke shortcut or using this feature on the Formulas tab. Great tool for auditing worksheets.
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