Make your data pop with conditional formatting

You’ve got your numbers wrangled and organized just right, but they still don’t jump out at the people who look at your worksheet. You want to give them the big picture at a quick glance. This is where conditional formatting can come to your rescue.

The embedded workbook below shows three examples of conditional formatting. The first two examples use easy to apply built-in formats, and the third example uses a rule based on criteria that you define and apply by using a formula.

Take a look at the samples, and learn how to get an even better look at its data by downloading this workbook (bonus: you don’t need to log into an account to download it!).

 If you click the View full-size workbook icon in the Microsoft Excel Web App black bar (just above), the workbook will be shown in a new browser window (or tab), and you’ll see an Excel Download button above the worksheet grid.

If you have Excel installed on your computer (Excel 2007 or later), download the workbook to your computer and then open it in Excel. In the workbook, you’ll be able to see the conditional formatting rules applied to each of the data ranges by doing the following:

1. Select the range, click Conditional Formatting on the Home tab, and then click Manage Rules.

2. Select the following cell ranges to examine their conditional formatting rules:

  • For the city temperatures, select B2:E3.

  • For the student grade point averages, select B7:B20.

  • For the East regiion actuual expenses, select B24:E24.

  • For the North region actual expenses, select B26:E26.

  • For the South region actual expenses, select B28:E28.

  • For the West region actual expenses, select B30:E30.

3. In the Conditional Formatting Rules Manager dialog box that appears, click Edit Rule.

Learn even more about conditonal formatting with these articles and videos on

And be sure to search for the keyword “conditional” to see some great blog posts from the Excel product team.

— Gary Willoughby