Friday, July 1, 2011

Microsoft Excel: Highlight all cells referenced by a formula

When helping a client, I often look at worksheets I am totally unfamilar with. This makes it hard for me to know what’s going on to easily find the problem. To help me understand how cells and formulas are interrealted, I will highlight all the cells referenced by a formula.

To do this, select a cell with a formula and press Ctrl+[ (open-square-bracket). Excel highlights all the cells referenced by the formula. Use Enter and/or Tab (Shift+Enter and/or Shift+Tab to shift into reverse) to move among the selected cells.

But what if you want to do the reverse, and see the formulas that reference the a cell? You guessed it, select the cell, and press Ctrl+] (close-square-bracket).


  1. I write and submit. All my manuscripts are docx. I want to publish on Kindle. I can convert to PDF or RTF, but just for it to be simpler for me to edit, etc. I would like them to be doc. Can you tell me a REALLY SIMPLE way to save my manuscripts as doc. ? I am not techy. I think you might have to email me at for me to get your reply, should you be so inclined. My Microsoft Office Word is 2007

  2. Hope it may really help us. I will try it. We can get Help with Excel Spreadsheets from here.

  3. I also found that, after hitting the Ctrl[ and the reference cells are selected, if you click on the Highlight Cell icon on the toolbar, this will highlight (color) these cells. This is VERY helpful when you are trying to find a missing number or cell referenced.