10 creative uses for Excel's conditional formatting feature

Find duplicates

To ignore the first occurrence and highlight only subsequent values, use this formula:


If you want to check for duplicate values across multiple columns, concatenate the values and apply a similar rule to the results, as shown in the figure above. You can also hide duplicates (which I don't always recommend) by selecting a font color that matches the sheet's background.


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.


You have to go in to Conditional Formatting, find and open the rule for edit (but don't have to make changes), [OK] it, [Accept] it and [Close] it. What a pain! So how is this made 'Dynamic'?


Hi Susan, great tips for Excel users. But what do you mean "This rule is unstable if you use normal referencing"? I realize it might be off-topic or beyond the scope of your post, but is there a straight-forward set of rules or guidelines for determining when it is appropriate to use named ranges so that the formula or conditional formula will produce the desired outcome? I would have probably attempted this using normal referencing, and when it didn't work, I would have probably resorted to using additional columns of formulas referencing the original data set / range.