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: Detecting Errors in Conditional Formatting Formulas.

Detecting Errors in Conditional Formatting Formulas

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 1, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Allan uses a lot of conditional formatting, nearly always using formulas to specify the conditions for the formatting. Recently he discovered, by chance, that he had a #REF! error in one of his conditional format formulas. As far as Allan could figure, this was the result of deleting the row of a cell referred to in the formula. The impact is that the conditional formatting wouldn't work for that condition. This made Allan concerned that there were other instances of conditional formats that became corrupted since originally being set up. He wonders if there is any simple way of checking all conditional formatting so that these errors can easily be found.

The best way is to use a macro to step through all the conditional formats defined for a worksheet. The following macro does just that, looking for any #REF! errors in the formulas.

Sub FindCorruptConditionalFormat()
    Selection.SpecialCells(xlCellTypeAllFormatConditions).Select
    For Each c In Selection.Cells
        For Each fc In c.FormatConditions
            If InStr(1, fc.Formula1, "#REF!", _
              vbBinaryCompare) > 0 Then
                MsgBox Prompt:=c.Address & ": " _
                  & fc.Formula1, Buttons:=vbOKOnly
            End If
        Next fc
    Next c
End Sub

If an error is found, then a message box displays both the address of the cell and the formula used in the conditional formatting rule.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (5730) 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: Detecting Errors in Conditional Formatting 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. ...

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