Home / MS-Excel / Excel 2003

Controlling When Certain Formats Are Used

Excel includes a nifty little feature called conditional formatting that tells the program to format a cell range in one way when the range contains one type of data entry and in a completely different manner when it doesn't. Conditional formatting can go a long way in helping you keep tabs on very significant or potentially disastrous conditions that crop up in your spreadsheet.

Most of the time, you apply conditional formatting to cells that contain formulas whose evaluated values are key in the spreadsheet (such as subtotals or grand totals). Applying conditional formatting to these cells can help you flag any potential errors that result from goof-ups made in the input cells referenced in the formulas. You can also use conditional formatting to flag unexpected formula results, such as totals that exceed your wildest expectations as well as totals that are way below your most pessimistic projections.

This tutorial looks at ways you can use conditional formatting to alert yourself when certain key values change in your spreadsheet (for better or worse). It begins by looking at how you can use conditional formatting to select one type of cell format when normal conditions exist in the cell and another special formatting when some sort of abnormal condition crops up. You also find out how to use conditional formatting to warn you when certain kinds of errors have crept into the spreadsheet.