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Lesson 17: Using Conditional Formatting

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Introduction

Conditional Formatting Let's imagine you have a spreadsheet with thousands of rows of data. It would be extremely difficult to see patterns and trends just from examining the raw data. Excel gives us several tools that will make this task easier. One of these tools is called conditional formatting. With conditional formatting, you can apply formatting to one or more cells based on the value of the cell. You can highlight interesting or unusual cell values, and visualize the data using formatting such as data bars.

In this lesson, you will learn how to apply, modify, and delete conditional formatting rules.

Conditional formatting

The conditional formatting options

You have many conditional formatting rules, or options, you can apply to cells in your spreadsheet. Each rule will affect selected cells differently. Before you choose a formatting rule, you must identify what questions you are trying to answer. For example, in a sales spreadsheet you might want to identify the salespeople with lower than average sales. To do this, you need to choose a conditional formatting rule that will show you this answer. Not all of the options will provide you with this information.

Some of the conditional formatting options include:

  • Highlight cell rules: This rule highlights specific cells based on your option choice. For example, you can choose for Excel to highlight cells that are greater than, less than, or equal to a number, and between two numbers. Also, you can choose for Excel to highlight cells that contain specific text, including a specific date. If you choose this option, a dialog box will appear, and you will have to specify the cells to highlight and the color you would like to highlight the cells.
Highlight Cell Rules
Highlight Cell Rules
  • Top/bottom rules: This conditional formatting option highlights cell values that meet specific criteria, such as top or bottom 10 percent, above average, and below average. If you choose this option, a dialog box will appear, and you will have to specify the cells to highlight and the color you would like to highlight the cells.
Highlight Cell Rules
Highlight Cell Rules
  • Data bars: This is an interesting option that formats the selected cells with colored bars. The length of the data bar represents the value in the cell. The longer the bar, the higher the value.
Highlight Cell Rules
  • Color scales: This option applies a two- or three-color gradient to the cells. Different shades and colors represent specific values.
Highlight Cell Rules

To apply conditional formatting:

  • Select the cells you would like to format.
  • Select the Home tab.
  • Locate the Styles group.
  • Click the Conditional Formatting command. A menu will appear with your formatting options.
Conditional Formatting
  • Select one of the options to apply it to the selected cells. A cascading menu will appear.
Conditional Formatting
  • An additional dialog box may appear, depending on the option you choose.
  • If so, make the necessary choices, then click OK.

To remove conditional formatting rules:

  • Click the Conditional Formatting command.
  • Select Clear Rules. A cascading menu appears.
  • Choose to clear rules from the entire worksheet or the selected cells.

To manage conditional formatting rules:

  • Click the Conditional Formatting command.
  • Select Manage Rules from the menu. The Conditional Formatting Rules Manager dialog box will appear.
Conditional Formatting
  • From here you can edit a rule, delete a rule, or change the order of rules.

Challenge!

Use the Company Sales workbook to complete this challenge.

  • Apply conditional formatting to a range of cells with numerical values.
  • Apply a second conditional formatting rule to the same set of cells.
  • Apply a conditional formatting rule to a range of cells with text.
  • Explore the Conditional Formatting Rules Manager dialog box.
  • Clear all conditional formatting rules from the worksheet.

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