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Circular Dependency Detected in Google Sheets (2024 Fix)

Circular Dependency Detected in Google Sheets Explained

A circular dependency in Google Sheets occurs when a formula in a cell indirectly or directly refers back to itself, creating a loop. This can cause errors in your calculations and result in the "Circular Dependency Detected" warning. 

Example 1: Direct Circular Dependency

You have a formula in cell A1: =A1+1. This formula is trying to add 1 to the value of A1 itself, creating a loop.

circular dependency detected google sheets

Example 2: Indirect Circular Dependency

This occurs when a cell refers to another cell, which eventually refers back to the first cell. For instance, if A1 contains =B1, and B1 contains =A1, it's an indirect circular dependency.

circular dependency detected in google sheets
circular dependency google sheets

How to Fix Circular Dependency Detected in Google Sheets

Correct the Formulas

The simplest way to resolve a circular dependency is to correct the formulas. Ensure that no formula refers back to its own cell or creates a loop through other cells.

Example:

1. Cell A1 contains =A1+1.

Modify the formula so that it doesn't refer to A1. For instance, change it to =B1+1, where B1 is a different cell that doesn't create a dependency loop.

what is circular dependency in google sheets

2. A1 contains =B1, and B1 contains =A1.

Break the loop by changing one of the formulas. For example, change B1 to =C1, assuming C1 doesn't create another circular dependency.

circular dependency fix in google sheets

Use Helper Cells

Sometimes, breaking a circular dependency requires restructuring your worksheet. You can introduce "helper cells" to hold intermediate values.

Example: 

You want to calculate a running total in A1, but =A1+B1 creates a circular dependency.

how to fix circular dependency in google sheets

Use a helper cell (C1) to store the previous total. Set A1 to =C1+B1, and update C1 with the new total each time you change B1.

fix circular dependency in google sheets

Check for Complex Dependencies

In larger spreadsheets, circular dependencies might not be obvious. Carefully review your formulas, especially where cells are heavily interconnected.

Avoid Volatile Formulas

Certain functions like INDIRECT, OFFSET, and RAND can often lead to circular dependencies if not used carefully. Ensure these functions aren't inadvertently creating loops.

Using Iterative Calculation (Advanced)

If your use case specifically requires circular references (like for certain types of financial modeling), Google Sheets allows you to enable iterative calculations.

Go to "File" > "Settings."

fix circular dependency detected google sheets

Click on the "Calculation" tab.

google sheets circular dependency detected

Check "Iterative calculation" and set the maximum number of iterations and the convergence threshold.

google sheets how to fix circular dependency

We hope that this article has helped you and given you a better understanding of circular dependency detected in Google Sheets. If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our articles on how to make a heat map in Google Sheets and how to swap two cells in Google Sheets.

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