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Counting Precedents and Dependents

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Counting Precedents and Dependents.

Because Excel allows you to create formulas that refer to other cells, it stands to reason that cells can be dependent on each other. In fact, Excel has two technical terms that are used to define the relationship between cells: precedents and dependents.

Precedents are those cells on which a formula is based. Thus, if cell A5 contains the formula =A3 + A4, then both A3 and A4 are precedents for cell A5. Dependents are the reverse of precedents. Thus, in this example, cell A5 is a dependent of cells A3 and A4. You can use the auditing tools in Excel to graphically depict these relationships between cells, as described in other issues of ExcelTips.

What if you want to know how many dependents and precedents there are in a worksheet, however? There is no Excel command that displays this information. You can use a macro to calculate and display this information, however. The following macro will do just that:

Sub CountDependentsPrecedents()
    Dim ws As Worksheet
    Dim lDep As Long
    Dim lPre As Long

    On Error GoTo err
    For Each ws In Worksheets
        lDep = 0
        lPre = 0
        lDep = Range("a1:iv65536").Dependents.Count
        lPre = Range("a1:iv65536").Precedents.Count
        MsgBox "Worksheet: " & ActiveSheet.Name & vbCr & _
          "Dependents: " & lDep & vbCr & _
          "Precedents: " & lPre
    Next ws
    Exit Sub
    Resume Next
End Sub

When you run this macro, it steps through each worksheet in your workbook and displays the number of dependents and precedents in each.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2015) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Counting Precedents and Dependents.

Related Tips:

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!


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