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Working with Circular references in Excel


If you've come to this page, chances are you've experienced the "Circular reference warning" popping up when you opened an Excel file or entered a formula. Excel detects a circular reference when a chain of calculations visits the same cell more than once. Many users get (very) confused by this message and have no idea what it is about. I'll try to demystify that message here!

You may also find an excerpt of parts of the article on the Microsoft Office blog

The next couple of pages discuss:

Table Of Contents


Showing last 8 comments of 20 in total (Show All Comments):


Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (12/4/2013 4:17:13 PM)

Hi Brian,

What happens if you hit F9, does it then update to the proper value?
Perhaps the number of iterations is incorrect?


Comment by: Brian (12/5/2013 2:28:05 AM)

Hello Jan,

Hitting the F9 key does not seem to have any affect. The iterations are set to 1 as it is a large spreadsheet and once a value is locked in it needs to stay until the next day. The circular references are the result of if/then formulas.




Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (12/5/2013 7:49:10 AM)

Hi Brian,

OK. In that case I'm afraid I cannot really help without having your workbook.


Comment by: richie (1/21/2014 4:14:09 AM)

anyone help me,always shown #N/A



Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (1/21/2014 6:13:07 AM)

Hi Richie,

What is wrong with a simple:


I suspect the structure of your worksheet is making it hard to find what you need for your calculation...


Comment by: richie (2/8/2014 7:44:13 AM)

Jan Karel Pieterse

hope you don't mind, can you give me your email add!,then i'll send you my format...



Comment by: Chris (4/16/2014 7:15:59 AM)

Hi Jan, I have i hope a basic question .
wish to input a value into a cell and multiply it by another cells value, but have the result show in the first cell.

b1 = a1*b1 . so that the formula is just =a1* the value that will be entered into bi at another time. i'd like not to have to enter the value in the formula bar but in the cell, if at all possible.

this is to create a daily calories calculator

regards chris


Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (4/16/2014 12:09:57 PM)

Hi Chris,

Why not show the result in a different cell than the input cell? That is the better aproach because you'll be able to see both input value and result.


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