Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Counting Precedents and Dependents.

# Counting Precedents and Dependents

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 11, 2015)

Because Excel allows you to create formulas that refer to other cells, it stands to reason that cells can be dependent on each other. In fact, Excel has two technical terms that are used to define the relationship between cells: precedents and dependents.

Precedents are those cells on which a formula is based. Thus, if cell A5 contains the formula =A3 + A4, then both A3 and A4 are precedents for cell A5. Dependents are the reverse of precedents. Thus, in this example, cell A5 is a dependent of cells A3 and A4. You can use the auditing tools in Excel to graphically depict these relationships between cells, as described in other issues of ExcelTips.

What if you want to know how many dependents and precedents there are in a worksheet, however? There is no Excel command that displays this information. You can use a macro to calculate and display this information, however. The following macro will do just that:

Sub CountDependentsPrecedents()
Dim ws As Worksheet
Dim lDep As Long
Dim lPre As Long

On Error GoTo err
For Each ws In Worksheets
ws.Select
lDep = 0
lPre = 0
lDep = Range("a1:xfd1048576").Dependents.Count
lPre = Range("a1:xfd1048576").Precedents.Count
MsgBox "Worksheet: " & ActiveSheet.Name & vbCr & _
"Dependents: " & lDep & vbCr & _
"Precedents: " & lPre
Next ws
Exit Sub
err:
Resume Next
End Sub

When you run this macro, it steps through each worksheet in your workbook and displays the number of dependents and precedents in each.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6196) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Counting Precedents and Dependents.

##### Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

##### MORE FROM ALLEN

Reversed Bolding

If you paste information from one document into another, you may be surprised at the results. If your text changes from ...

Discover More

Need to get rid of the links in your workbook but save the values that were retrieved by those links? It could be easy or ...

Discover More

Generating Double-Digit Random Numbers

Normally you use the RAND and RANDBETWEEN functions to generate random numbers. What if you want to generate random ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

##### More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Determining a Name for a Week Number

You could use Excel to collect data that is useful in your business. For instance, you might use it to collect ...

Discover More

Segregating Numbers According to Their Sign

Remember your number line from your early years in school? Some numbers can be below zero (negative numbers) and others ...

Discover More

When you are working with sequenced values in a list, you’ll often want to take some action based on the top X or ...

Discover More
##### Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven less than 9?

2015-04-12 21:58:53

Col Delane

Below is a modified version of the code, which: (1) advises the user as to the type of any unexpected error encountered, (2) allows the macro to continue if there are no precedents or dependents on the active sheet (otherwise it bombs out due to the error), (3) incorporates Nir's suggestion, and (4) allows the user to exit gracefully after testing any sheet.

Sub CountDependentsPrecedentsBySheet()

'Define Procedure Variables
Dim wbk As Workbook
Dim ws As Worksheet
Dim lDep As Long
Dim lPre As Long
Dim MsgResp

On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

Set wbk = ActiveWorkbook

For Each ws In wbk.Worksheets
ws.Select
lDep = 0
lPre = 0

On Error Resume Next
lDep = Cells.Dependents.Count
lPre = Cells.Precedents.Count
On Error GoTo ErrorHandler

Select Case MsgBox("Worksheet name: " & ActiveSheet.Name & vbCr & vbCr & _
"No. of Precedents: " & lPre & vbCr & vbCr & _
"No. of Dependents: " & lDep, vbOKCancel + vbInformation, "Count of Precedents & Dependents")

Case vbOK
'Do nothing >> continue
Case vbCancel
GoTo ExitPoint
End Select

Next ws

ExitPoint: '-------------------->>>>>>>>>-------------------->>>>>>>>>-------------------->>>>>>>>> Exit Sub
On Error GoTo 0
Exit Sub

ErrorHandler:
MsgBox Prompt:=Now & ":" & vbLf & vbLf & "Error " & err.Number & " (" & err.Description & ")" & vbLf & vbLf & "in procedure named 'CountDependentsPrecedentsbySheet'" & vbLf & vbLf & "in workbook named " & ThisWorkbook.Name, Buttons:=vbOKOnly + vbExclamation, Title:="VBA Error"
Application.StatusBar = False
Resume ExitPoint

End Sub

2015-04-12 01:17:51

nir liberman

shorter / easier:
lDep = Cells.Dependents.Count
lPre = Cells.Precedents.Count

##### This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.