Auditing Errors in MS Excel

Dennis Faas's picture

I hate it when an error message shows up in my Excel spreadsheets! Doesn't everyone? When you see an error message it generally means that somehow, somewhere, a typo has made its way into one of your formulas or a piece of information is either incorrect or missing.

If you were the author of the formula that is returning the error, you may not have too much difficulty in determining where the trouble is located. However, if you are working in someone else's spreadsheet it may not be as easy to spot that error. That is when you use the Auditing Tools in MS Excel to sniff out the cause of the error.

Follow the steps below:

  • Click on the cell that contains the error message to select it.  
  • Click on Tools | Auditing | Trace Error. When you do this, Excel will draw an arrow to the cell that contains the error, from every cell that the formula references. You can then see at a glance which cells you need to audit to confirm that they contain the correct information.  

After you have audited the problem, remove the arrows by following the instructions below:

  • Click on Tools | Auditing | Remove All Arrows.

That wasn't difficult now was it? I wish all errors were so easy to find!

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