More than Three Conditional Formats

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 28, 2015)

1

The conditional formatting feature of Excel is very powerful. For complex formatting, however, there is one drawback for most Excel users: The conditional formatting feature only seems to allow up to three conditions to be defined.

This is actually a bit misleading. There are actually four conditional formats that can be specified. The fourth one is the format that is used by Excel if none of the three conditions specified in the Conditional Formatting dialog box is true. (In other words, the way you format the cell to begin with is the fourth format.)

If you simply need to define additional conditions, without the need of corresponding formats, you can design formulas to use in the conditions. These formulas can use the OR, AND, and NOT functions. For instance, if you want cell B5 to be colored red when the cell value is outside the range of 5 to 10, or it is not a number, you can use the following condition:

=OR(B5<5,B5>10,NOT(ISNUMBER(B5)))

In order to enter this formula into the Conditional Formatting dialog box, make sure you specify "Formula is" instead of "Cell Value Is" in the condition. You would then change the formatting for the condition in the dialog box so that it is red. Similar "compound formulas" can be designed for other complex conditional needs.

If you need to define additional conditions—more than three—and you need different formats for each of the conditions, then you are out of luck. In that instance, you will need to use VBA macros to check your conditions and modify cell formats accordingly. (You could also upgrade to a later version of Excel—2007 or later—as these later versions will easily handle more than three conditional formats.)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2439) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Triggering an Event when a Worksheet is Deactivated

One way you can use macros in a workbook is to have them automatically triggered when certain events take place. Here's how ...

Discover More

Cross-referencing to an Automatic Number

Word allows you to add automatic numbering to different elements of your document, such as to headings. If you want to create ...

Discover More

Word Styles and Templates

Styles are at the heart of Word's formatting power. Understanding how to use styles can greatly increase your ability to ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

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 ...

Discover More

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 ...

Discover More

Understanding Conditional Formatting Conditions

Conditional formatting can be a great way to highlight specific information in your worksheets. This tip explains the ...

Discover More
Subscribe

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

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 8Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is eight more than 8?

2015-02-28 05:32:44

Barry

Conditional formatting has only three outcomes (i.e. formats) but the conditions can be multiple by using the formula option when setting the condition up.

For example you could set the conditional formatting on cell A1 so this its back change to, say, Red if cells B1=2, C1=3, D5>0, Average of cells E1 to E10 is greater than 2, etc etc this would use the formula =OR(B1=2, C1=3, D5>0, AVERAGE(E1:E10)>2). The formatting is the same but in this example there are 4 conditions that result in the Red background (the outcome).

The formula can be as complex as you want to make it, and can use both relative and absolute addressing.


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
Subscribe

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.