Office 97 Tips

Conditional Formatting

Color-coding your data lets you tell at a glance whether your numbers are up or down. Using Excel's conditional formatting features, you can set up your sheet so that cells change colors depending on what their values are--a great way to make your cells easy to read:

  1. Select the cells that you want to color-code. To select noncontiguous cells, hold down Ctrl as you click.

  2. Select Format/Conditional Formatting. In the Conditional Formatting dialog box, you'll set the conditions for the cells. In the first field on the left, decide whether you want the condition based on the value of a cell or formula. In the second field, select which conditional terms apply. In the third field, fill in the value for the cell, or use the third and fourth to fill in a range. For example, if you wanted to create a conditional format for a Total cell, you could select Cell Value Is for the first field, "Greater than or equal to" for the second, and enter 1,000 in the third field as the value.

  3. In the same dialog box, click Format to set the cell's appearance when the condition is met. You can set options related to font, border, and pattern. If you just want to set the color, choose the Patterns tab, and select a color for the cell. For our example, you might select green, so that the Total cell will glow green when it hits the 1,000 mark.

  4. Click OK to complete the first condition.

  5. If you want to add another condition to the cell, click Add and repeat the steps to fill in Condition 2. Otherwise, click OK to put the conditional format in place.

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