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Empty Cells Triggers Error

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: Empty Cells Triggers Error.

Wayne uses an Excel workbook to track his bank balance and bill due dates and amounts due by month. In one of the columns he is suddenly getting an error flagged: "The formula in this cell refers to cells that are currently empty." This occurs through the entire worksheet and every other worksheet he opens. Wayne has been using this workbook for over seven years and this is the first time he has encountered this.

Excel automatically checks for several different types of potential errors in your worksheets; this is one of them. There are two ways you can handle this situation.

First, if you only want to turn off the flagging in the cells that note the error, select all the cells that have the error. Then click the small "error icon" that appears in the upper-right of the cells. Excel displays a drop-down list from which you should select Ignore Error. The error should go away.

If you want a more global solution, follow these steps instead:

  1. Select Options from the Tools menu. Excel displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Make sure the Error Checking tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Error Checking tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Clear the Formulas Referring to Empty Cells check box.
  5. Click on OK.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9573) 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: Empty Cells Triggers Error.

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