Conditional Formatting

Use conditional formatting in Excel to make data easier to read. Use the Excel conditional formatting function to better visualize data too.

Introduction

Video: Conditional Formatting

Launch "Conditional Formatting" video!Watch the video (3:54).

Let's say you have a worksheet with thousands of rows of data. It would be extremely difficult to see patterns and trends just from examining the raw information. Similar to charts and sparklines, conditional formatting provides another way to visualize data and make worksheets easier to understand.

Optional: Download our practice workbook.

Understanding conditional formatting

Conditional formatting allows you to automatically apply formatting—such as colors, icons, and data bars—to one or more cells based on the cell value. To do this, you'll need to create a conditional formatting rule. For example, a conditional formatting rule might be: If the value is less than $2000, color the cell red. By applying this rule, you'd be able to quickly see which cells contain values less than $2000.

Screenshot of Excel 2013Conditional formatting marking values less than $2000

To create a conditional formatting rule:

In our example, we have a worksheet containing sales data, and we'd like to see which salespeople are meeting their monthly sales goals. The sales goal is $4000 per month, so we'll create a conditional formatting rule for any cells containing a value higher than 4000.

  1. Select the desired cells for the conditional formatting rule.Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting the desired cells
  2. From the Home tab, click the Conditional Formatting command. A drop-down menu will appear.
  3. Hover the mouse over the desired conditional formatting type, then select the desired rule from the menu that appears. In our example, we want to highlight cells that are greater than $4000.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting a conditional formatting rule
  4. A dialog box will appear. Enter the desired value(s) into the blank field. In our example, we'll enter 4000 as our value.
  5. Select a formatting style from the drop-down menu. In our example, we'll choose Green Fill with Dark Green Text, then click OK.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Creating a conditional formatting rule
  6. The conditional formatting will be applied to the selected cells. In our example, it's easy to see which salespeople reached the $4000 sales goal for each month.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013Conditional formatting applied to the data

You can apply multiple conditional formatting rules to a cell range or worksheet, allowing you to visualize different trends and patterns in your data.

Screenshot of Excel 2013A worksheet with multiple conditional formatting rules

To remove conditional formatting:

  1. Click the Conditional Formatting command. A drop-down menu will appear.
  2. Hover the mouse over Clear Rules, and choose which rules you want to clear. In our example, we'll select Clear Rules from Entire Sheet to remove all conditional formatting from the worksheet.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Removing conditional formatting rules
  3. The conditional formatting will be removed.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013The conditional formatting removed from the worksheet

Click Manage Rules to edit or delete individual rules. This is especially useful if you have applied multiple rules to a worksheet.

Screenshot of Excel 2013Deleting an individual rule

Conditional formatting presets

Excel has several predefined styles—or presets—you can use to quickly apply conditional formatting to your data. They are grouped into three categories:

To use preset conditional formatting:

  1. Select the desired cells for the conditional formatting rule.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Selecting the desired cells
  2. Click the Conditional Formatting command. A drop-down menu will appear.
  3. Hover the mouse over the desired preset, then choose a preset style from the menu that appears.
    Screenshot of Excel 2013Applying a preset conditional formatting rule
  4. The conditional formatting will be applied to the selected cells.


    Screenshot of Excel 2013The applied conditional formatting preset

Challenge!

  1. Open an existing Excel workbook. If you want, you can use our practice workbook.
  2. Apply conditional formatting to a range of cells with numerical values. If you are using the example, apply a rule for the sales data (cells B3:G23) that will fill cells with green if their values are more than $9000.
  3. Apply a second conditional formatting rule to the same set of cells. If you are using the example, apply a preset conditional formatting rule.
  4. Clear all conditional formatting rules from the worksheet.