Easiest Ways to Fix Excel Found A Problem with Formula References [2024]

November 9, 2023 1.7K views

In the world of technology, seamless operation is the key to productivity. Yet, we've all been there – facing frustrating hiccups that disrupt our workflow, especially during critical, time-sensitive tasks. One common hurdle for Excel users is encountering formula errors, be it circular references, invalid cell references, or issues with external workbook links. These errors can be daunting.

But fear not! We've got your back. We've fixed the notorious "Excel found a problem with formula references" error right here. This solution is a game-changer for those who heavily rely on software for data analysis, financial modeling, and other mission-critical tasks. Don't let formula errors stand in your way any longer. Let's dive in and unlock the full potential of Excel for your success.

Best Methods to fix Excel found a problem with formula references:

Every problem comes with a solution. The same applies to your frustration with the "How to fix Excel found a problem with formula references" error. This step-by-step ultimate guide helps you cope with your Excel errors by showing you how to fix "Excel found a problem with formula references."

Here are the best four methods to fix the Excel error. You will not only get the instructions but also screenshots to provide you with a clear understanding of the process. So, let's dive deep to catch the right fish for you:

Method 1: Check Each Sheet

This process will help you pinpoint problematic sheets within your workbook for further examination. This approach simplifies the troubleshooting process for the Excel formula reference error, making it efficient and user-friendly.

If the issue persists, you could consider backing up the content of the problematic sheet and deleting it from the workbook before attempting to save the Excel file again. Sometimes, the root of your "Excel found a problem with formula references" issue may lie within a specific sheet in your workbook. You can identify and address this by copying the contents of each individual sheet into a new Excel file and attempting to save it.

Step 1: Open your Excel workbook that contains the error.

Excel workbook with multiple sheets

Step 2: Open a new black workbook in the "File" tab.

new Excel workbook

Step 3: Copy the contents of each sheet within your workbook and paste it into the new Excel file, one at a time.

Copying one sheet of content

Step 4: After pasting each sheet's content, save each sheet in the new Excel document.

Step 5: If any of the sheets or events gives the error at the time of saving, you can safely identify it as the problematic sheet.

Method 2: Check External Links

Sometimes, your data contains external links that are broken or direct to a non-existent file or location. These broken or invalid links can contribute to the "Excel found a problem with formula references" error. Identifying and removing these erroneous links can potentially resolve the issue and prevent future file corruption. Now, let's walk through the process.

Step 1: Open the Excel workbook that contains the error.

Step 2: Navigate to the 'Data Tab' at the top of your Excel interface.

Data Tab of Excel

Step 3: In the 'Data Tab', locate and click 'Queries & Connections'.

Step 4: Within 'Queries & Connections', select 'Edit Links', which opens a new window showing all the external links in your workbook.

Step 5: Review the links in this list by clicking on the "Check Status" tab; if any of these links contain errors, highlight them.

Step 6: With the problematic link(s) highlighted, click 'Break Link' to remove these links from your workbook.

Break links in Excel

Method 3: Use the Error Checking Tool

Excel provides an in-built error-checking tool. This tool scans your workbook for potential errors and highlights formula-related problems. Using this tool, you can quickly identify the root cause of the "Excel found a problem with formula references" error and rectify it. Let's go through the steps.

Step 1: Open your Excel workbook that contains the error.

Step 2: Go to the "Formulas" tab in the Excel interface.

Formula Tab Interface

Step 3: Search for the "Error Checking" tab, and from the drop-down menu, click "Error Checking."

Error Checking tab layout

Step 4: Excel will highlight any detected errors and provide suggestions for correcting them. Follow the instructions to fix the errors.

Error Checking Pop-up

Method 4: Review Charts

If none of the methods works in your favor, you can still have some options to check to repair the workbook. Sometimes, charts in Excel can cause formula reference errors if the data series linked to the chart is deleted or moved. Reviewing and correcting the data series in your charts can fix the "Excel found a problem with formula references" error.

Step 1: Open the Excel workbook that contains the error.

Step 2: Navigate to each chart in your workbook.

Chart Tab Interface

Step 3: Open "Select Data" to check if the chart's data series is correctly linked. If you find any chart with an incorrect data series link, correct it.

Select Data Pop-up

Step 4: After correcting the data series links in all charts, try saving the workbook. The error should be resolved if it was caused by the charts.

Note: If these solutions still don't satisfy your query "How to fix Excel found a problem with formula references in this worksheet", please check the FAQS section. Consider using the WPS office to get your job done without being late for urgent task delivery.

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FAQs About Formula References

Q1: What is a circular reference?

A circular reference in Excel occurs when a formula refers back to its own cell either directly or indirectly. This creates a loop of infinite calculations where the cell's value changes. Excel alerts you of circular references as these can result in incorrect calculation outcomes or the spreadsheet becoming slow. To learn more, visit here.

Q2: How do we hide error values and error indicators in cells?

Select the cells containing the error value to hide error values and indicators in cells. Afterwards, find the Styles group in the "Home" tab. Click on the arrow next to Conditional Formatting, then click on Manage Rules. This action will open the Conditional Formatting Rules Manager dialog box. Click on New Rule to open the New Formatting Rule dialog box.

Under Select a Rule Type, choose "Format only cells that contain." Underneath Edit the Rule Description, in the "Format only cells with" list, select "Errors." Once done, click Format and navigate to the Font tab. Click on the arrow to display the Color list, and under Theme Colors, choose the white color. More details can be found here.

Q3: How to fix #REF Excel errors?

#REF! errors in Excel occur when a formula references a cell that is not valid. This could be due to the referenced cell(s) being deleted or moved or if cells referenced in the formula are pasted over. To fix this error, replace the #REF! in your formula with an actual cell reference. For more guidance, click here.


We hope this guide assists you with the best methods to effectively troubleshoot the "How to find Excel found a problem with formula references" error. Whether you manually check for broken links or use the in-built Error Checking tool, Excel has various options available to help resolve the issue. If you still face trouble using Microsoft Excel, move to another alternative, WPS Office Spreadsheet.

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