Circular Reference in Microsoft Excel

In this article, we will learn about circular reference.

Circular reference can be a formula that refers to its own cell value, or refers to a cell dependent on its own cell value.

In simple words, the cell in which formula is being calculated & the cell itself is also included or part of the range then a circular reference warning message will appear. It might cause for the incorrect calculation by the formulas.


Let us take an example:

  • In cell A1 & A2, numbers are entered & in cell A3 we want to find out the total.


  • While typing the sum formula, the range is stretched to cell A3 in which formula is entered.
  • Excel will pop-up an error message


If above shown error message regarding circular reference pops up while adding formulas, then you might have created circular cell reference unknowingly. You can track & then remove the incorrect reference & it will remove the circular reference.
To track circular reference, follow the below steps:

  • Click on blank cell
  • Click on Formulas ribbon
  • In Formula Auditing group, click on Error Checking
  • Select Circular References & it will provide the location of the cell in which circular reference occurs.


  • If there are multiple circular references, then you are required to manually go to each cell & correct the formula until the status bar no longer shows the word “CIRCULAR REFERENCES”



Below you can find more examples:-

How we can see circular reference

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