Most Valuable Professional

View Jan Karel Pieterse's profile on LinkedIn subscribe to rss feed

Subscribe in a reader

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Newsletter Archive

Audit !!!

Check out our RefTreeAnalyser
the ultimate Excel formula auditing tool.


Visit our Amsterdam Excel Summit

Speed up your file

The best tool to optimise your Excel model!
Home > English site > Articles > Circular References
Deze pagina in het Nederlands

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 25 in total (Show All Comments):


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.


Comment by: Marnix (4/20/2014 10:52:52 AM)

Hi JAn, hope you can help. I made a cricular reference in a cell, say cell A, that is accumulating a value from another cell, say cell B. However, the automatic sheet calculation makes that it updates cell A every time a change is made anywhere due to auto calculation. I only want to have cell A updated if I make a change to cell B. I do not want to set the sheet to Manual calculation. (PS: Iteration is set to 1). Thank sin advance, Marnix.


Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (4/28/2014 10:17:58 AM)

Hi Marnix,

You can only do that if the value in the "watched" cell is changed from a fixed value (for instance empty) to something else:



Comment by: Marnix (4/28/2014 9:45:55 PM)

Hello Jan, many thanks for your suggestion. Translated to my case this did the trick: =IF( B1<>"" , A1+B1 , A1).
Cell A1 now accumulates any update of cell B1 without calculating other cells.

Thanks again!

regards Marnix


Comment by: Luiz Carlos Guilarducci (7/10/2014 5:17:27 PM)

Let me explain my troubles, I'm using circular reference in my model to calculate interest income (My model is yearly, and i use the average between my cash balance from the year before and the current year). When I change the start date, my interest incomes go to infinite, and i need a cells to break the circularity and after return with it.
As my interest income are going to infinite, i use automatically a formula to chose 0 if interest income go to inifnite, otherwise 1. It is working well, but my boss doesn´t like this solution because normally people use cells to choose the circular reference or not.
I wanna know, if really there is a problem with my solution. What do you think? Have you ever used this solution?

Regards Luiz !


Comment by: Jan Karel Pieterse (7/11/2014 4:59:05 PM)

Hi Luiz Carlos,

Your solution sounds perfectly feasible to me!


Have a question, comment or suggestion? Then please use this form.

If your question is not directly related to this web page, but rather a more general "How do I do this" Excel question, then I advise you to ask your question here:

Please enter your name (required):

Your e-mail address (optional but if you want me to respond it helps!; will not be shown, nor be used to send you unsolicited information):

Your request or comment:

To post VBA code in your comment, use [VB] tags, like this: [VB]Code goes here[/VB].