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: Conditional Formatting Based on Date Proximity.

Conditional Formatting Based on Date Proximity

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 20, 2018)

5

Richard wondered if it was possible, using conditional formatting, to change the color of a cell. For his purposes he wanted a cell to be red if it contains today's date, to be yellow if it contains a date within a week of today, and to be green if it contains a date within two weeks.

You can achieve this type of conditional formatting if you apply a formula. For instance, let's assume that you want to apply the conditional formatting to cell A1. Just follow these steps:

  1. Select cell A1.
  2. Choose Conditional Formatting from the Format menu. Excel displays the Conditional Formatting dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Conditional Formatting dialog box.

  4. Set Condition 1 so that Cell Value Is Equal To =TODAY(). Note that you must, in the right-most box, enter an equal sign followed by the TODAY() function.
  5. Click on the Format button. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  6. Make sure the Patterns tab is selected. (See Figure 2.)
  7. Figure 2. The Patterns tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  8. Choose the red color you want to use and close the Format Cells dialog box.
  9. Click on the Add button.
  10. Set Condition 2 so that Cell Value Is Between =TODAY()-7 And =TODAY()+7. Note that you must use equal signs in the two right-most boxes, otherwise Excel can't figure out that you are entering a formula.
  11. Click on the Format button. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  12. Make sure the Patterns tab is selected.
  13. Choose the yellow color you want to use and close the Format Cells dialog box.
  14. Click on the Add button.
  15. Set Condition 3 so that Cell Value Is Between =TODAY()-14 And =TODAY()+14. Again, you must include the equal signs to indicate you are entering formulas.
  16. Click on the Format button. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  17. Make sure the Patterns tab is selected.
  18. Choose the green color you want to use and close the Format Cells dialog box.
  19. Click on OK.

One important thing to bear in mind with conditional formatting is that criteria are evaluated in the order in which they appear. Once a criteria has been met, then the formatting is applied and other criteria are not tested. It is therefore important to set out the tests in the correct order. If, in the example above, the criteria had been entered in the reverse order, i.e. test for 14 days, then 7 and then 0, it would have only applied the 14 days format even if the date entered was today. In other words, if the date is today then all three of the tests would have been met so you have to be careful of the order in order to get the result you need.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2664) 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: Conditional Formatting Based on Date Proximity.

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. ...

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Comments

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What is 6 + 9?

2019-02-01 10:40:12

Ced W

This tip helped intially but what about formatting a cell based on another cell ...? Like, if the due date in cell A1 is Jan1 but the date completed in cell A2 Jan2 color it red for being past due or green if completed on time ...?


2019-01-14 14:00:42

Archie

Can anyone help me, in conditional formating
Column A and column B
I wanted to condition or put color in column B if B bigger than A

Any one


2018-10-30 21:29:06

Dan Dresner

In a table, I need my entries to each evaluate as whole numbers in order to create a CRC total, in case some of the entries are frax.


2018-05-06 06:43:34

Andrew Ford

Hi,
So I have followed your explanation, with adjustment to my requirements. However, no conditional formatting is being applied.

I have a date, let's say 06/09/2018, they do vary.
I want to format backwards on a 28-day rule, so my rules entered are:
Cell Value equal to =TODAY() -84, format RED, this identifies anything entering 3 months
Cell Value between =TODAY() -84 and =TODAY()-112, format Yellow, this identifies anything between 3 / 4 months
Cell Value between =TODAY() -112 and =TODAY()-140, format Yellow, this identifies anything between 4/ 5 months

Where am I going wrong, I just need to identify dates when they approach a month period.


2018-02-20 11:21:55

Lee

What about when I don't want to the data to be determined on TODAY's date.
For example,
Column A - Date of Initial Contact
Column B - Date of Final Contact

I want to use conditional formatting to show:
Green - if communication was completed in 4 days or less
Yellow - if communication was completed in 5-7 days
Red - if it took 10 or more days to complete communication.


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