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: Automatic Lines for Dividing Lists.

Automatic Lines for Dividing Lists

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 21, 2015)

Let's say you have a list of company transactions. Each transaction includes a department number, a title, and other information (amount, date, time, sales rep, etc.). As you get more and more of these items in your list, you may want a way to automatically add "dividing lines" based on the department number. For instance, when the department number changes, you may want to include a line between the two departments.

To add this type of formatting to your list, start by sorting your data table by department. Then follow these steps:

  1. Select the left-most cell of the first row of your data. For instance, if your table heads are in row 3 (columns A through J), and your first row of data is in row 4, you should select cell A4.
  2. Press Shift+Ctrl+End. All the cells in your data table should be selected, with the exception of the header row.
  3. Choose Conditional Formatting from the Format menu. Excel displays the Conditional Formatting dialog box.
  4. Make sure the first drop-down list is "Formula Is." (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Conditional Formatting dialog box.

  6. In the formula area, enter "=$A4<>$A5" (without the quote marks).
  7. Click the Format button. Excel displays the Format Cells dialog box.
  8. Display the Border tab. (See Figure 2.)
  9. Figure 2. The Borders tab of the Format Cells dialog box.

  10. Click the None button to remove any borders already applied to the cells.
  11. In the Style list, select the type of border you want to appear between departments.
  12. In the Border area of the dialog box, click the button that adds your selected border style to the bottom of the cells.
  13. Click OK to close the Format Cells dialog box.
  14. Click OK to close the Conditional Formatting dialog box.

That's it; you should now see a line that appears across the entire width of your data every time the department changes.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3189) 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: Automatic Lines for Dividing Lists.

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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