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Copying Conditional Formatting

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Copying Conditional Formatting.

In Excel, conditional formatting is considered part of the regular formatting of a cell. If you want to copy conditional formatting from one cell to another, you can do so by simply copying the cell and pasting it (or its format) to another cell. If you want to copy a conditional format to a range of cells (and only the conditional format), the easiest way to do so is by following these general steps:

  1. Select the range to which you want the conditional format copied. Make sure, however, that the cell whose conditional format you want copied is part of the range.
  2. Choose Conditional Format from the Format menu. You will see the Conditional Format dialog box. The format should already be filled in. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Conditional Formatting dialog box.

  4. Click your mouse on OK.

That's it. Excel does the rest and copies the conditional formatting, as you desired.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2797) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Copying Conditional Formatting.

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Comments for this tip:

Tim Riley    10 Aug 2016, 12:43
Conditional formatting may not engage when copying cells. In the case where formulas simply point to other cells (within the same sheet, or even on other tabs), there is a simple trick that will engage the already established Conditional formatting conditions. Try the following;

1. Select all cells that were copied-to that currently are not working.
2. Verify that the formulas are correct for each cell.
3. Right click and select Format Cells and select General.
4. The remaining steps must be done individually for each cell that was just changed to General formatting;
a. Highlight one cell (at a time)
b. Push and release F2
C. Hit Enter
5. Formatting should begin working immediate for the cell just completed. No repeat for all additional cells.

I hope this helped...
arshiya najam    08 Aug 2016, 08:01
conditional formatting can be copied to other cells using which tool?
Sara-Jayne    15 Apr 2016, 03:11
Did anyone manage to work this one out?? I'm having a nightmare involving a lot of copy and paste!
Phil T    21 Jul 2015, 18:37
So much else with Excel is intuitive, but not this.

Whenever I need to copy/paste conditional formatting, I end up looking all over the internet to try and remember exactly HOW I did it the last time.

Here's today's situation: I want to color cells that already have values in them. The values have nothing to do with the formatting, but the value in an adjacent cell does.

I can do on a cell-by-cell basis, but trying to use formulas/selecting a range to apply this to, it always ends up coloring the cell based on the first example only. I.e., instead of (like everything else you can copy/paste/drag) knowing I mean to restrict it to the adjacent cell IN THE SAME ROW, Excel somehow cannot do this.

How TF can Excel know how to apply dragged/copy+pasted formulas, etc., but NOT KNOW I'm trying to do the same thing with conditional formatting?


JodiH    21 Jul 2015, 16:22
I've had a problem with copying conditional formatting in a self-designed checkbook. I've basically set up a column where each cell looks at the cell above it, and if it is the same number, it changes color to match the background and "disappear" (If H29 is equal to H28, change color.) Is there ANY way to copy this conditional formatting down the column? I've tried removing the $ before the row, but it does nothing. Any help would be appreciated!
Grey    27 Jun 2015, 10:50
Dear Sir,

is there a way to force textboxes (referring to cells) to show conditional formatting of the cells?

cell is formatted to show a predefined word instead of number when it is entered. That cell is connected to the textbox in the form I use to print reports. Unfortunately, formatting is not transferred along with the value - it still shows the number.
Teresa C    11 Feb 2014, 12:30
The format painter is also helpful when copying conditional formats, although it also copies other formatting such as border line width, etc etc.

However, I am stuck on a conditional formatting problem in a large spreadsheet. I want to copy one but not all of the conditional formatting rules from cell A13 to cell B14, and one but not all of the conditional formatting rules from cell C13 to cell B14.. Is this possible; it would be great if I could just click on the rule I want and copy it?? At the moment i have a dummy cell set up for each rule, each cell has only one rule, and I successively copy each conditional format to the target cell. Clunky.. Any better ideas?
speedyjim    31 May 2012, 14:30
Brian D,

I ran into the same difficulty you were having with formulas used in CF not updating the relative references when copying. One way around that is to highlight the all the cells you want CF to apply to. You then open the CF dialog and type in your formula with the relative cell reference and click OK. The formulas then automatically adjust. I'm using Excel 2003. I hope this helps.
trafa    21 May 2012, 01:34
i study excel so i want know about excel a lot .
Brian Deno    26 Mar 2012, 20:58

This appears to work for everything but copying a CF that includes a formula referencing multiple cells. Do you have a suggestion on how to copy CF that includes a formula referencing multiple cells? Every method I've tried carries the original cells formula and does not modify the formula to reference the current row. Manually typing in each CF formula won't be fun.


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