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Shading a Cell Until Something is Entered

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: Shading a Cell Until Something is Entered.

When creating a worksheet in which information must be entered into specific cells, you may find it helpful to shade the cells if they are blank, but have the shading removed if something is entered into the cell. You can easily accomplish this task by using the conditional formatting feature in Excel. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cell or cells that you want shaded if they are empty.
  2. Choose Conditional Formatting from the Format menu. Excel displays the Conditional Formatting dialog box.
  3. Use the Condition drop-down to choose Formula Is. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Conditional Formatting dialog box.

  5. In the formula area, to the right of the drop-down list used in step 3, enter the following formula, replacing A1 with the address of the active cell selected in step 1:
  6.      =ISBLANK(A1)
  7. Click Format to display the Format Cells dialog box.
  8. Click the Patterns tab. (See Figure 2.)
  9. Figure 2. The Patterns tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  10. Select the color you want used for shading the cell if it is blank.
  11. Click OK to dismiss the Format Cells dialog box. The shading color you selected in step 7 should now appear in the preview area for the condition.
  12. Click OK.

All the empty cells among those selected in step 1 should now appear shaded. When you enter something into one of the shaded cells, the shading should disappear.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2800) 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: Shading a Cell Until Something is Entered.

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