10 creative uses for Excel's conditional formatting feature


Conditional formatting lets you apply specified formatting only when certain conditions are met. Here are some creative ways you can push conditional formatting beyond its expected uses. These techniques assume a basic knowledge of Excel's conditional formatting feature.


Note: If you'd prefer to view this information as a blog post, check out this entry in our Five Apps blog. You can also download sample Excel files that demonstrate the techniques covered here.



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.