It’s always important to know the relationships and dependencies between cells on your spreadsheet. If you edit a cell, which other cells will be affected? And which cells does a particular formula look to? Both questions are easily answered with the Trace Dependents and Trace Precedents buttons.

To find out which cells/formulas refer to (are dependent on) your currently selected cell, click on the Formulas tab, then click the Trace Dependents button. Blue arrows will be drawn from the current cell to any cell on the same tab of the workbook that contains a formula that points to your selected cell. Click Trace Dependents again and another set of arrows will show the next set of dependent cells, that is, the cells that depend on the cells that depend on your starting cell. Double click any of the blue arrows and your cursor will move the the cell the arrows points to.

In addition to the blue arrows, an arrow with a dashed line will appear for the dependencies that’s not on the current worksheet. Double click the dashed arrow and the GoTo box appears. Select a location and click OK to jump to it.

Trace Precedents works the other way. If you need to identify the cells used in a formula, select the cell containing the formula, and then click the Formulas tab and Trace Precedents. Blue arrows will point to the cells referenced in your formula on the current tab and a dashed arrow represents all precedents not on the current tab. Clicking the button again will trace back to the next level of precedents.

When you’re done, use the Remove Arrows button to clear the arrows from the screen.