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: Alerts About Approaching Due Dates.

Alerts About Approaching Due Dates

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 4, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


1

Jonathan developed a worksheet that tracks due dates for various departmental documents. He wondered if there was a way for Excel to somehow alert him if the due date for a particular document was approaching.

There are several ways that this can be done in Excel, and you should pick the method that is best for your purposes. The first method is to simply add a column to your worksheet that will be used for the alert. Assuming your due date is in column F, you could place the following type of formula in column G:

=IF(F3<(TODAY()+7),"<<<","")

The formula checks to see if the date in cell F3 is earlier than a week from today. If so, then the formula displays "<<<" in the cell. The effect of this formula is to alert you to any date that is either past or within the next week.

Another approach is to use the conditional formatting capabilities of Excel. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells that contain the document due dates.
  2. Choose Conditional Formatting from the Format menu. Excel displays the Conditional Formatting dialog box.
  3. Make sure the first drop-down list is "Cell Value Is." (This should be the default.) (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Conditional Formatting dialog box.

  5. Make sure the second drop-down list is "Less Than."
  6. In the formula area, enter "=TODAY()" (without the quote marks).
  7. Click the Format button. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  8. Figure 2. The Format Cells dialog box.

  9. Using the Color drop-down list, choose the color red.
  10. Click OK to close the Format Cells dialog box.
  11. Click Add. The Conditional Format dialog box expands to include a second condition.
  12. Make sure the first drop-down list for the second condition is "Cell Value Is." (This should be the default.)
  13. Make sure the second drop-down list is "Less Than."
  14. In the formula area, enter "=TODAY()+7" (without the quote marks).
  15. Click the Format button. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  16. Using the Color drop-down list, choose the color blue.
  17. Click OK to close the Format Cells dialog box. (See Figure 3.)
  18. Figure 3. The finished Conditional Formatting dialog box.

  19. Click OK to close the Conditional Formatting dialog box.

This is a two-tiered format, and you end up with two levels of alert. If the due date is already past, then it shows up as red. If the due date is today or within the next seven days, then it shows up in blue.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3179) 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: Alerts About Approaching Due Dates.

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

Numeric Value and Percentage Value in a Graph Column

Need more than a single data label on a data series? Here's a relatively easy way to get what you need.

Discover More

Adding Many No-Width Optional Breaks

One of the special characters you can add in a document is the no-width optional break. Although originally designed for ...

Discover More

Closing a Document and Creating a New One

When you often perform a series of steps, the best solution to make those steps easier is to create a macro. This tip ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Unique Military Date Format

Some industries (such as the military) have special formatting that they use to represent dates. Here is one such format ...

Discover More

Calculating Weekend Dates

Do you look forward to the weekend? Well, you can use Excel to let you know when the next weekend begins. Here's how you ...

Discover More

Converting European Dates to US Dates

Those in Europe use a date format that is different than those in the US; this is not news. But what if you need to ...

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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. 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 six less than 9?

2022-06-04 05:15:12

Barry

This quite a simplistic approach which is great for demonstrating the principles. In the real world, however, this approach ultimately results in everything showing red (i.e. everything entry becomes overdue).

One way is to delete the entry once it has been deslt with but this loses any tracking of if or when a task has been done, it's also prone to errors if an entry is accidentally deleted before completion.

A better way is to add an additional column to show either completion or date of completion, or some other status e.g. abandonment. The presence of an entry in this column could be used as a third conditional format to colur the cell as a "completed" status colour or as a qualifier for the first two conditional formats using the "Formula Is " option in the first two conditionsl to stop their conditions being met. In a long list of entries those overdue will standout against those still incomplete (but not overdue) and those which have been completed.


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.