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, conditional formatting provides another way to visualize data and make worksheets easier to understand.
Thus, Conditional Formatting is a feature of Excel which allows you to apply a format to a cell or a range of cells based on certain criteria. Conditional Formatting are of the following types:
- Highlight Cell Rules
- Top/Bottom Rules
- Data Bars
- Color Scales
- Icon Sets
To create a conditional formatting rule
Say, 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.
- Select the desired cells for the conditional formatting rule.
- From the Hometab, click the Conditional Formatting A drop-down menu will appear.
- 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.
- A dialog box will appear. Enter then desired value(s) into the blank field. In our example, we’ll enter 4000 as our value.
- Select a formatting style from the drop-down menu. In our example, we’ll choose Green Fill with Dark Green Text, then click OK.
- 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.
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:
- Data Bars are horizontal bars added to each cell, much like a bar graph.
- Color Scales change the color of each cell based on its value. Each color scale uses a two- or three-color gradient. For example, in the Green-Yellow-Red color scale, the highest values are green, the average values are yellow, and the lowest values are red.
- Icon Sets add a specific icon to each cell based on its value.
To use preset conditional formatting
- Select the desired cellsfor the conditional formatting rule.
- Click the Conditional Formatting A drop-down menu will appear.
- Hover the mouse over thedesired preset, then choose a preset style from the menu that appears.
- The conditional formatting will be applied to the selected cells.