Conditional Formatting in PivotTables

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 13, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


David is wondering if it is possible to apply conditional formatting to PivotTables. He would like to use conditional formatting so that when a table is refreshed the conditional formatting is applied to the new data in the PivotTable.

There is nothing that we have found that stops conditional formatting from being applied to a PivotTable. After creating the PivotTable you can apply the conditional formatting and it should work just fine. The problem, however, comes when you refresh the PivotTable and the refreshing results in the PivotTable being enlarged. In that case Excel expands the PivotTable into cells not previously used by the table. These cells also have no conditional formatting applied, so Excel doesn't know that it should apply it.

You can get around this problem by making sure that you apply conditional formatting to more than just the cells presently visible in the PivotTable. You should select a larger range of cells (including those outside the current PivotTable) and apply conditional formatting to that expanded range. In this way Excel can "retain" that formatting as it expands the PivotTable during a refresh.

The obvious problem with this approach, however, is that the flexibility of the conditional formatting is seriously hampered. If you have several conditional formats applied to the PivotTable, and those formats are not the same as each other, then how can you effectively apply those formats to an expanded cell range? Unfortunately there is no good answer to this possibility.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7002) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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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