In Excel, the other cells that are referred to in a formula are called precedents. Conversely, the cell containing the formula is a dependent because it needs the cell containing the data to complete its function. I’ve written before about the ability to trace precedents and dependents, But I recently learned two keyboard shortcuts that take you to your current cell’s precedents or dependents.

Ctrl+[ will move your cursor to the precedent(s) of the current cell, that is, the cell or cells that a formula in the current cell refers to.
Ctrl+] will move your cursor to the dependent(s) of the current cell, that is, the cell or cells with a formula that uses the current cell.

Some of you are asking why anyone would want to do that. Here are three good reasons.

  1. Checking Formulas. If you want to quickly check to make sure your formula is pointing to the right cell, Ctrl+[ will take you to the cells referenced in your formula. Then Ctrl+] to get back where you started.
  2. If you’re thinking of deleting or changing a cell but don’t know what it will affect, Ctrl+] will tell you if it is used in any formulas.
  3. Formulas now become shortcuts to help you navigate large spreadsheets, allowing you to jump between and detail sections and totals.