People often use cell references in their formulas to make their spreadsheet dynamic in Excel. However, they might encounter a problem "circular reference error" if they refer to a cell that depends upon the result of the formula. It can be challenging for the users to detect and solve the problem.

Hence, finding the circular reference and troubleshooting it is significant to bring accuracy to your formula. This article unveils why these errors happen and how to find circular reference in Excel. Let's dive in to understand circular references better, combat the errors in the spreadsheet, and ensure smooth workflow and accurate calculations!

## What are Circular References in Excel?

When a formula in a spreadsheet refers to a cell or group of cells that depend on each other for calculation, it's called a circular reference. It creates a loop that usually results in incorrect or infinite results as the formula recalculates.

When a circular reference occurs in Excel, it displays a warning message that shows the presence of direct or indirect circular references, which can result in incorrect calculations. The warning requires you to remove these references or move the formulas to different cells.

However, in some cases, circular references can serve a specific purpose and can be intentional. But most of the time, these are unintentional and cause problems in your spreadsheet. Identifying and fixing circular references can be challenging, especially in spreadsheets with numerous dependencies and complex formulas.

Excel provides tools that you can use to find and fix circular references to ensure accurate calculations in your Excel worksheets. But, before going into the detail of how to find circular reference in Excel, let's discuss the types of circular references.

There are two types of circular references:

Indirect circular reference

Direct circular reference

### 1- Direct Circular Reference

When a formula directly refers to its cell, the situation is called a direct circular reference. This creates a loop where a formula references itself resulting in infinite calculations.

Consider an example to understand this.

**Step 1:**

Open your Excel and create a new worksheet.

**Step 2:**

In cell A1, enter the number 10.

**Step 3:**

In cell A2, enter the formula =A2+2.

You can see that the formula for A2 = A2+2 where A2 refers back to itself. It continuously adds 2 to its value, a direct circular reference. It results in endless calculations.

When you Enter it, you see a warning message showing a circular reference's existence. You can modify the formula to break the circular reference or allow it. These references should be avoided as they can lead to instability in your spreadsheet and wrong calculations.

### 2- Indirect Circular Reference

A formula that indirectly refers to its cell or a group of cells dependent on each other in a loop results in an indirect circular reference. Thus, the calculations continue to loop without a definitive conclusion, resulting in a chain of dependencies.

Here is an example:

**Step 1:**

Open the Excel sheet and create a new workbook.

**St****ep 2:**

Enter the number 10 in cell A1.

**Step 3:**

In cell B1, enter the formula = A1 + 2.

**Step 4:**

In cell A2, enter the formula = B1 + 1.

Here, you can see that the formula of B1 depends on A1, and the formula of A2 depends on B1. Hence, this is a loop of dependencies, where the cells don't directly depend on each other but have an indirect connection resulting in a circular chain of dependencies.

A circular reference warning message in Excel will appear if you press Enter. You can either allow the circular reference or modify the formulas so that the loop is broken.

Review and modify your formulas to ensure accurate calculations and eliminate circular dependencies. An indirect circular reference will lead to inaccurate calculations and unpredictable results.

### Why Use WPS Office?

You can find and remove the circular reference using the following methods using Microsoft Excel or WPS Office spreadsheet. However, having a WPS office in your system is recommended for several reasons.

**Price**

A vital factor to consider while choosing a productivity suit is the price. WPS Office offers a cost-effective alternative to Microsoft Excel. There is a free version of this office software that includes all the essential features, making it accessible to those without a lot of money to dedicate to expensive office software.

**Compatibility**

WPS Office can open various file formats, including Microsoft Office file types such as .xlsx, .xls, and .csv. Hence, it is compatible when collaborating and sharing files with Microsoft Excel users.

**Features**

The WPS Office software provides many of the same features as Microsoft Excel, including powerful spreadsheet functions, charting features, data analysis tools, etc. Users can create appealing charts, perform complex calculations, and efficiently manipulate data.

**User-friendly interface**

WPS office features an intuitive and user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate. Microsoft Excel users find it easy to transition since it features a familiar ribbon-style toolbar. The streamlined interface reduces the learning curve and enhances productivity.

## How to Find Circular Reference in Excel

If you can't find circular reference in Excel, use the Formula Tab. Follow these steps to locate the circular references in Excel.

### Use the "Circular References" Feature under the Formulas Tab

**Step 1:**

Open your Excel worksheet, and at the top of your Excel window, navigate toward the "Formula" Tab.

**Step 2:**

Here is the "Error Checking" button in the "Formula editing" group. Click on the arrow lying next to the "Error Checking" button.

**Step 3:**

Now, you will see a dropdown menu. Select "Circular references" from the options.

**Step 4:**

Excel highlights the cell that contains circular references by navigating through the worksheet. To view and resolve the issue, click on each highlighted cell.

### Look at the Bottom of the Active Sheet

Another way to locate circular references is by checking the status bar at the active sheet's bottom. For this, follow these steps.

**Step 1:**

Open your Excel Worksheet and navigate to the workbook you want to scan for circular references.

**Step 2:**

Look at the status bar at the bottom-left corner of the Excel window. You will see a message if there is any circular reference in the active sheet.

The message will show the number of circular references found. To jump on the first circular reference found, you can click on the message.

It is important to note that finding circular references through the status bar is easier and quicker, especially if you want to avoid navigating through the menu and highlighting cells manually.

## How to Remove Circular Reference in Excel

You need to trace the relationship between cells and formulas if you are looking for how to fix circular reference in Excel.

### How to Trace Relationships between Formulas and Cells

As discussed earlier, tracing the relationship between cells and formulas is essential to identify circular references. The features of trace dependents and trace precedents show which cells get affected by the selected cell. For these, follow these steps.

**Step 1:**

Find out the Formulas Auditing group from the Formula Tab.

**Step 2:**

You see two options:

#### Trace Precedents

It displays a line showing which cells affect the selected cell, demonstrating where the data comes from. For tracing Precedents, press **Alt+T U T **as a shortcut key.

#### Trace Dependents

This function lets you see which cells depend on the selected cell. It draws lines showing which cells contain references to the selected cell. You can also enter Alt+T U D for tracing dependents.

**Step 3:**

Once you have traced precedents or dependents, click the "Remove Arrows" button below Trace Dependents to remove the arrows.

You can use these features to visually identify the relationships between cells and formulas in your spreadsheet, which can assist you in finding and resolving circular references.

## 4 Benefits of Identifying Circular References in Excel

Some benefits of identifying circular references in Excel include

Identifying circular references helps

**prevent unreliable and incorrect results and enhances accuracy**.It helps you

**streamline calculations and optimize**—your spreadsheet performance by reducing unwanted iterations.By eliminating circular references, you can

**save time and efficiently**focus on boosting productivity.Eliminating circular reference pages is the way to

**reliable data analysis**; hence, you can make informed decisions based on accurate information.

## FAQs about Finding Circular Reference in Excel

### Can circular references cause errors in my Excel models?

Circular references can result in errors in Excel models. They result in endless iterations, inaccurate results, unstable models, and accelerated errors. Resolving circular references is vital to maintaining the reliability of the calculation.

### Can circular references be nested within other circular references?

Circular references can be nested within other circular references. It means there can be a circular reference in a formula that refers to a cell that also contains circular references in its formula. This results in a complex circular dependency.

## Summary

After reading the article, you must be able to find and fix circular references in Excel. After getting an overview of the types of circular references, you get an idea of how to find and resolve them through simple methods.

Whether you use Microsoft or WPS Office, the above methods can help you resolve circular reference errors in Excel. However, due to the numerous benefits of WPS Office over Microsoft, like compatibility, cost-effectiveness, and user-friendly alternative, it is recommended to resolve circular references efficiently.