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Quickly Identifying Applied AutoFilters

Jim wants a way to quickly tell what filtering criteria have been applied in an AutoFilter. He has a hard time telling even which columns have filtering applied (the slight change in drop-down arrow color from black to blue is hardly noticeable), so some other method of telling where a filter is applied would be nice.

The lack of contrast between the black and blue drop-down arrows in a filtered column is not an uncommon complaint. In fact, this very issue was addressed in a different issue of ExcelTips. (You can search at the ExcelTips Web site for the phrase "drop-down arrow colors" for a handy tip in this regard.)

If you actually want to know what criteria are being applied to a column, then you'll be interested in a small macro that will place the criteria into another cell:

Function DispCriteria(Rng As Range) As String
    Dim Filter As String

    Filter = ""
    On Error GoTo Done
    With Rng.Parent.AutoFilter
        If Intersect(Rng, .Range) Is Nothing Then GoTo Done
        With .Filters(Rng.Column - .Range.Column + 1)
            If Not .On Then GoTo Done
            Filter = .Criteria1
            Select Case .Operator
                Case xlAnd
                    Filter = Filter & " AND " & .Criteria2
                Case xlOr
                    Filter = Filter & " OR " & .Criteria2
            End Select
        End With
    End With
    DispCriteria = Filter
End Function

This is actually a user-defined function that you can use in your worksheet. For instance, if you wanted to know the filtering criteria that was applied to column C, you could use the following in a cell:


If you prefer, you could simply reference the header cell for the column being filtered. For example, if the header (the one to which AutoFilter adds the drop-down arrow) is cell C3, you could use the following:


The criteria displayed by the function are those actually used by AutoFilter. For instance, if you use a filtering criteria that says "Top 10," then Excel translates that at the time it is applied into something like ">=214.3281932" (the value will vary, depending on your data). It is the formulatic filter that is returned by the DispCriteria function, not the "Top 10" wording.

The function is based on one created by Microsoft MVP Stephen Bullen. The macro has been published in various places, and you can find it on John Walkenbach's Web site, here:


ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2891) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Related Tips:

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!


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