Conditional Formatting is a very useful, powerful and versatile tool. As its name suggests, it has two parts - you set a condition and apply a format. When the condition is true, the format is applied.
1. Conditional Formatting using a Custom Formula
You can check for all kinds of things.
You can also apply a multitude of different formatting options ranging from basic cell colours and font colours to coloured data bars, colour scales (heat maps) and even icon sets.
Those are the standard conditional formatting options.
But moving past those you can set a condition based on a custom formula. That's where things start to get interesting. And that’s the focus of this post.
2. Example: Highlighting every ‘Category A’ row
Consider this worksheet. Every ‘Category A’ row is highlighted automatically.
Here’s how it's done.
1. Select cells A2:D10 (the cells that you want to highlight when appropriate).
2. Select the Home tab,.
3. Click the Conditional Formatting icon.
4. Choose New Rule.
5. Choose ‘Use a formula to determine which cells to format’.
6. Write a formula. When creating a formula to be applied across a cell range, write the formula as if you were only checking the first cell. In this case, that is cell A2. The formula is
However, you need to adapt the formula so it works correctly for every row and every column.
The row number must be relative (not prefixed with $). This means that for each subsequent row, the formula will check the cell in column A for that row.
But the column letter must be absolute (prefixed with $). This means that every cell on a row check the cell in column A. If that cell is category A, then the current cell will be formatted.
Therefore, you need to change the formula to:
7. Set the formatting, e.g. set the cell colour to yellow.
To test the formula, whenever the category in column A is "A" every data cell in that row is highlighted automatically.
3. Watch the video (over the shoulder demo)
4. What next?
Have you used conditional formatting in interesting ways? Pleae share below.
I hope you found plenty of value in this post. I'd love to hear your biggest takeaway in the comments below together with any questions you may have.
Have a fantastic day.