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How to find and locate circular reference in Excel quickly?

Author: Xiaoyang Last Modified: 2020-04-22

When you apply a formula in a cell, says Cell C1, and the formula refers back to its own cell directly or indirectly, says =Sum (A1:C1), circular reference happens.

When you reopen this workbook with circular reference again, it pops up a circular reference error message, which warns formulas contains a circular reference and may not calculate correctly. See the following screenshot:

doc-find-circular-reference1

It tells what is the problem, however, it does not say where the error stays in. If you click the OK button, the warning error message will be closed, but it will pop up next time when you reopen the workbook; if you click the Help button, it will bring you to the Help document.

Find out and locate the cell in Status bar

Find out and locate the cell in Circular Reference


Find out and locate the cell in Status bar

You can find the circular reference in the Status bar.
doc find circular reference3


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Find out and locate the cell in Circular Reference

Actually, you can find out and locate the cell with circular reference in Excel with following steps:

Step 1: Go to the Formula Auditing group under the Formula tab.

Step 2: Click the Arrow button besides the Error Checking button.

Step 3: Move mouse over the Circular References item in the drop down list, and it shows the cells with circular references. See the following screenshot:

doc-find-circular-reference2

Step 4: Click the cell address listed besides the Circular References, it selects the cell with circular reference at once.

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Comments (59)
Rated 5 out of 5 · 1 ratings
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Thank you. I really appreciate your details on status bar. It really helped me to get my work done. Thank you so much.
Rated 5 out of 5
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
What if Formulas>Error Checking>Circular Reference is grayed out?
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
For the instances where the error checking won't show the location of the circular reference, I was able to fix that by saving a copy of the file and deleting out all of the tabs with pivot tables. Once the last tab was gone error checking just started working on it's own and found the circular reference
Don't know if this will work for all the cases of this bug, but it worked for me in this particular case.
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Thanks!Thanks!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Great article! It was easy to follow and worked. I was able to fix the error issue quickly. Thank you!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
The instruction under "Zoek en zoek de cel in Circular Reference" was very-very-very helpful !

MS-Help does not give this solution.
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Locating the Cell In Circular Reference was nicely explained with steps........... I fixed the error..... thank you very much
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Thank you! Simple and short explanation, without writing a ton of paragraphs of why finding circular references is important :)
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
thank you, I thought it would be even simpler by just clicking on the statement in the status bar. your explanation was spot on.
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Thank you for your supplement!!!
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site
Thank you. I have been looking for the error for two hours and found it in 10 minutes with your help!
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