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: Conditionally Highlighting Cells Containing Formulas.

Conditionally Highlighting Cells Containing Formulas

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 30, 2016)


You probably already know that you can select all the cells containing formulas in a worksheet by pressing F5 and choosing Special | Formulas. If you need to keep a constant eye on where formulas are located, then repeatedly doing the selecting can get tedious. A better solution is to use the conditional formatting capabilities of Excel to highlight cells with formulas.

Before you can use conditional formatting, however, you need to create a user-defined function that will return True or False, depending on whether there is a formula in a cell. The following macro will do the task very nicely:

Function HasFormula(rCell As Range) As Boolean
    HasFormula = rCell.HasFormula
End Function

To use this with conditional formatting, select the cells you want checked, and then follow these steps:

  1. Choose Conditional Formatting from the Format menu. Excel displays the Conditional Formatting dialog box.
  2. Make sure the first drop-down list is "Formula Is." (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Conditional Formatting dialog box.

  4. In the formula area, enter "=HasFormula(A1)" (without the quote marks). If the active cell in the range that you selected is not A1, you'll need to modify the formula slightly to reflect whatever cell is active.
  5. Click the Format button. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The Format Cells dialog box.

  7. Use the controls in the Format Cells dialog box to specify how you want the cells formatted.
  8. Click OK to close the Format Cells dialog box.
  9. Click OK to close the Conditional Formatting dialog box.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3188) 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: Conditionally Highlighting Cells Containing Formulas.

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. ...


Understanding "Through" Text Wrapping

Understanding how Word handles wrapping text around a graphic or other object is critical to getting the best page layout ...

Discover More

WordTips: The Macros

Word includes a powerful macro programming language called Visual Basic for Applications. WordTips: The Macros can ...

Discover More

Moving Comment Background Pictures to Cells

When formatting comments, you can use a graphic as a background for the comment box. If you later want to move this ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Displaying Negative Percentages in Red

Excel includes quite a few different formats you can use for the information in a worksheet. One format that isn't as ...

Discover More

No New Fonts Error

Sometimes Excel does things that may appear just plain wacky. This particular tip deals with an issue that could crop up ...

Discover More

Using Copy and Paste for Formatting

Want to copy formatting from one cell and paste it into another cell? It's easy to do if you use the Paste Special ...

Discover More

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

View most recent newsletter.


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 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 5 + 9?

2017-02-07 01:47:04


This is great. Do you have conditionally highlighting cells with NO formula? Appreciate if you do.

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.