Conditional Formatting

You may need to format cells in Excel based on a set of conditions, which is when conditional formatting is useful. You can also use the feature as a shortcut to highlight improper data using certain criteria. The following articles explain what conditional formatting in Excel can do and how to utilize it.

Tips, Tricks, and Answers

The following articles are available for the 'Conditional Formatting' topic. Click the article''s title (shown in bold) to see the associated article.

   Answering Questions in Order
It is not unusual to use Excel to gather the answers to users' questions. If you want your users to answer your questions in a specific order, you can use both data validation and conditional formatting, as described in this tip.

   Changing Coordinate Colors
Tired of the default colors that Excel uses to display the row and column coordinates? You can modify the colors, but only if you make the change in Windows itself.

   Changing Font Face and Size Conditionally
Conditional formatting does not allow you to change the typeface and font size used in a cell. You can write your own macro to do the formatting change, however.

   Changing Shading when a Column Value Changes
If you have a data table in a worksheet, and you want to shade various rows based on whatever is in the first column, then you can use Excel's conditional formatting capabilities. There are a couple of ways you can choose to do so, however.

   Conditional Format that Checks for Data Type
Conditional formatting can be used to highlight cells that contain the improper type of data for your needs. This tip examines how to check if either text or numbers have been entered into a cell.

   Conditional Formats that Distinguish Blanks and Zeroes
Conditional formatting is a great tool. You may need to use this tool to tell the difference between cells that are empty or cells that contain zero values. Here's how to approach the task.

   Conditional Formatting
One of the powerful features of Excel is the ability to format a cell based on the contents of that cell or another. It is referred to as conditional formatting and described in this tip.

   Conditional Formatting Based on Date Proximity
Conditional formatting can be used to draw your attention to certain cells based on what is within those cells. This tip explains how you can use conditional formatting to change the color of cells based upon how close a particular date is to today's date.

   Conditional Formatting for Errant Phone Numbers
Conditional formatting can be used to draw attention to all sorts of data based upon the criteria you specify. Here's how you can use conditional formatting to highlight which phone numbers aren't within the parameters you need.

   Conditional Formatting in PivotTables
Conditional formatting is very powerful, and you can use it to dynamically adjust how your data looks. Excel allows you to apply conditional formatting in a PivotTable, but the outcome of that application may not be satisfactory when the table is refreshed.

   Conditional Formatting with Data Imported from Access
If you want to apply a conditional format to data imported into Excel from Access, you may run into some difficulties related to how that data is interpreted. Here's some ways around the difficulties.

   Conditionally Formatting for Multiple Date Comparisons
When you compare dates in a conditional formatting rule, you need to be careful how you put your comparisons together. Do it wrong, and you won't get the result you expect. Here's how to do it right.

   Conditionally Formatting Non-Integers
The conditional formatting capabilities of Excel are very helpful when you want to call attention to different values according to criteria you specify. The hardest part of using conditional formatting is identifying which condition should be used. This tip examines the different ways you can specify a condition that differentiates between an integer and non-integer in a cell.

   Conditionally Making a Sound
Need to have a sound played if a certain condition is met? It is rather easy to do if you use a user-defined function to actually create the sound.

   Copying Conditional Formatting
Conditional formatting is a great feature in Excel. Here's how you can copy conditional formats from one cell to another in a worksheet.

   Counting Colors from Conditional Formats
Conditional formatting is a great way to make sure that your information looks a particular way, even if the information changes. If you want to determine the color of cells whose color is based on a conditional format, then you are in for quite a bit of work.

   Detecting Errors in Conditional Formatting Formulas
If an error exists in a formula tucked inside a conditional format, you may never know it is there. There are ways to find those errors, but the easiest method involves the use of a short macro.

   Diagonal Borders in a Conditional Format
Conditional formatting is a great tool for changing how your data looks based on the data itself. Excel won't allow you to use diagonal borders in your conditional formats, however. Here are some ways you can deal with this limitation.

   Highlighting Cells Containing Specific Text
If you want to highlight cells that contain certain characters, you can use the conditional formatting features of Excel to help out. Here's how to set up the proper conditional format.

   Highlighting Values in a Cell
There are many ways that Excel allows you to highlight information in a cell. This tip examines a way to highlight values that are entered into cells that used to contain formulas.

   More than Three Conditional Formats
Conditional formatting is a great feature for making the data in your worksheets more understandable and usable. What if you need to define a conditional format that has more than three conditions? Here are a few ideas.

   Moving Cell Borders when Sorting
Sort your data and you may be surprised at what Excel does to your formatting. (Some formatting may be moved in the sort and some may not be.) Here's an easy way to make sure that the formatting you apply is moved whenever you sort.

   Noting Inactivity within a Timeframe
There are many times when you are creating a worksheet that you need to analyze dates within that worksheet. Once such instance may be to figure out whether a certain date is outside some timeframe that you specify. This tip takes a look at how to accomplish such an analysis feat.

   Protecting Your Conditional Formatting Rules
If you have conditional formatting applied in a worksheet, the formulas in those formats may not be as secure as you would like. This tip explains the problem and shows you what you can do to guard the formulas.

   Removing Conditional Formats, but Not the Effects
Conditional formatting is very powerful, but at some point you may want to make the formatting "unconditional." In other words, you might want to remove the conditions on which the formatting is based, but still keep the formatting that you see for those cells. This can only be done via a macro, as described in this tip.

   Shading a Cell Until Something is Entered
Conditional formatting provides the opportunity to get very creative with your formatting. One such creative urge can be satisfied by formatting an input cell so that it shows up in a desired color until someone enters something in it. This can make it easier for users to see where they need to enter information.

   Shading Based on Odds and Evens
You can use conditional formatting to add shading to various cells in your worksheet. This tip shows how you can shade cells based on whether a value is odd or even.

   Shading Rows with Conditional Formatting
If you need to shade alternating rows in a data table, you'll want to examine how you can accomplish the task with conditional formatting. This tip shows just how easy such shading can be.

   Sorting or Filtering by Conditional Format Results
Conditional formatting is a great feature in Excel. Unfortunately, you can't sort or filter by the results of that formatting. Here's why.

   Understanding Conditional Formatting Conditions
Conditional formatting can be a great way to highlight specific information in your worksheets. This tip explains the different types of conditions you can check for in your formatting criteria.

   Using Multiple Test Conditions
When creating conditional formats, you are not limited to only one condition. You can create up to three conditions, all for the same cell or range of cells.

This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.