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Conditionally Formatting an Entire Row

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: Conditionally Formatting an Entire Row.

Graham described a problem he was having with a worksheet. He wanted to use conditional formatting to highlight all the cells in a row, if the value in column E was greater than a particular value. He was having problems coming up with the proper way to do that.

Suppose for a moment that your data is in cells A3:H50. You can apply the proper conditional formatting by following these steps:

  1. Select cell A3.
  2. With A3 still selected, scroll the worksheet so you can see cell H50.
  3. Hold down the Shift key as you click on H50. The entire range A3:H50 should be selected, and A3 should still be the active cell.
  4. Choose Conditional Format from the Format menu. Excel displays the Conditional Formatting dialog box.
  5. In the left-most drop-down list for Condition 1, select Formula Is. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The Conditional Formatting dialog box.

  7. In the formula space just to the right of the drop-down list, enter the following formula:
  1. Click the Format button. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  2. Figure 2. The Format Cells dialog box.

  3. Using the controls in the dialog box, specify how you want the cells that are greater than 40,000 to be displayed.
  4. Click OK to dismiss the Format Cells dialog box.
  5. Click OK to accept your conditional format.

This formula used in the conditional format works because you use the absolute indicator (the dollar sign) just before the column letter. Any reference that has the $ before it is not changed when Excel propagates it throughout a range. In this case, the cell reference will always be to column E, although the row portion of the reference can change.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2798) 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: Conditionally Formatting an Entire Row.

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Comments for this tip:

Matt    05 Oct 2015, 23:10
If you copy/Insert a column/row within conditional formatting boundaries, the conditional formatting will stay intact for the new row/column, and extend the boundary to keep all the previous row/columns.

ie. if conditional formating of columns $A-$J is based on $K, you can insert a column at $C, and the conditional formula for the new larger section $A-$K will change to be based on $L
skimpniff    29 May 2015, 19:16
I have a table that has different text every row. The columns are configured so that each day has two columns, value and function, which repeat throughout the month.

I am having trouble with a formula. I have the following:


to format to a specified color applied to


(the whole table essentially)

The purpose is to highlight the whole row white if the value is 0 and the value two columns over is blank. It is in a constantly updating spreadsheet used to track daily numbers. The blank cell requirement is to ensure that the current days values will highlight the row, overriding the previous days value.

The problem I have is copying the formula to another column to the right as the spreadsheet grows with time. When I copy it, the values remain at "K" and "M" because of the absolute $.

I have experimented with variations to the formula which have not yielded acceptable results.

How do I write a formula, or modify the existing one, to highlight the whole row based on a value, and will also be transferable to the next row without manually altering the formula each time?

Kay    08 Jul 2014, 11:25
Aha! I'm using 2010. I'll try again.
Kay    08 Jul 2014, 10:06
I tried this using the cell contains text "no longer", but it still only formatted the initial specific cell and not the whole ROW. ????

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