How to use Microsoft Excel’s Conditional Formatting

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Microsoft Excel’s conditional formatting is a wonderful “automatic” feature that allows you to formats cells based on the value of those cells or the value of the formulas in those cells. For example, you can specify that all the sales totals in your spreadsheet that exceed $5,000 are highlighted in yellow; or all the dates prior to the current year use a dark-green font; or use a shape or ratings icon to flag all duplicate values above 12,000. The options are endless and, in addition to all the preset formats, you can create your own custom formatting rules.

The best thing about this feature is that it provides a quick snapshot of your spreadsheet when you view it or show it to others. Because the formatting is based on values, you don’t have to do anything to make it work except update your data.

A. Format cells that meet these value conditions

1. Open a sales spreadsheet or enter a dozen names with sales totals for the first four months of 2017; that is, Jan, Feb, Mar, and Apr.

2. Highlight the Jan column of sales totals.

3. Select Home > Conditional Formatting > Highlight Cells Rules > Greater Than.

4. Excel displays the Greater Than dialog box. In the field box under Format cells that are GREATER THAN, enter a number (for this example, 5000) and click OK.

5. Note that all the sales totals in column B that are greater than $5,000 are now highlighted in light green with a dark-green font.

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